The city of Great Falls doesn't have much time to come up with the $2.5 million first payment in their settlement with Southern Montana Electric. The city manager proposes a budget amendment that would take the money from 8 funds in the current budget. These funds were selected as money that would not be immediately missed and the city could recover from this loss of funds over time. However, not everyone at tonight's city commission meeting was content with the city's solution.
Concerned citizen, Ron Gessaman, raised several points in his address to the city commission, even going as far to say "$5 million of ECP's debt is directly chargeable to this commission". CPA, Larry Rezentes, also spoke to the commission in opposition. He highlighted the fact that the city is not going after their former ECP customers that broke contract. He says we should "recover some of this money from those responsible for it and that relates to customers, the existing city commission, and ideally prior city commissions and mayors". Rezentes even went as far to suggest certain city officials acted illegally in dealings with ECP and SME and recommended the city take legal action. Allegations like this was not met well by some members of the commission as they upheld they did their best and right now the city's best interest is getting out of the power business.
Many members of the public feel the situation revolving around Electric City Power and Southern Montana Electric is still a mystery, and not only do they want answers as to what went wrong, they also want to know who is responsible.
The city will also need to come up with an additional $750,000 by the end of this year for the second payment. City officials say the 2014 budget is where most of the effects of this settlement will be felt. Four public members spoke in opposition of the proposed budget amendment; none stepped forward to speak in favor. The city commission passed the amendment unanimously.