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Columbia Water and Light releases new financial information

Columbia Water and Light release new...

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The city of Columbia's utility department released new information amid criticism that it wasn't keeping the public up-to-date on its finances.

The balance sheets for March, April and May 2017 came attached to the Columbia Water and Light Advisory Board's agenda for its Wednesday meeting. The sheets come with financial statements explaining the utility department's financial status and performance for those months.

Columbia City Council members took issue with the department's lack of information during budget discussions. Columbia Water and Light had asked to increase utility bill rates for electric and water use by 1 and 4 percent, respectively. The council only approved the water rate increase.

The new data shows a steady growth in customers. The water division saw 412 more customers in May 2017 than the year before, while the electric side grew by 956 new rate payers. Electric saw its largest growth in the residential sector, according to the financial statement.

Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said the reports put the city on the right track for accountability. He told ABC 17 News he did not think the department should have been so heavily criticized for the lack of reports during budget discussions, calling the situation a "fluke" due to a switch in software for the department.

"We're bringing three months [of reports] forward every month, is what it looks like, as they get hand-checked for accuracy before we release them to public," Trapp said. "So we're going to get those caught up and that won't be an issue next year."

Mayor Brian Treece, who opposed the rate increase in part due to the financial statements, said he was out of town at a meeting and could not comment on the new reports.

Fifth Ward Councilman Matt Pitzer said he appreciated that Water and Light was getting up-to-date on its financial statements.

"I look forward to [the Water and Light Advisory Board] reviewing those finances with the staff and hearing their feedback," Pitzer said in an email.


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