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RESOLUTION EXPRESSING SUPPORT FOR THE OFFICE OF THE OHIO CONSUMERS’ COUNSEL AND URGING THE OHIO LEGISLATURE TO PRESERVE THE MISSION OF THE OCC BY RESTORING FUNDING TO THEIR BUDGET; AND DECLARING AN EMERGENCY.
WHEREAS, in 1976, The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel was created by the Ohio General Assembly to represent the interests of Ohio’s residential utility customers in matters relating to their public utility services; electric, natural gas, water and telephone; and
WHEREAS, funded solely by assessments on utilities and not by taxes, The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel’s budget does not affect the State’s General Revenue Fund; and
WHEREAS, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has a current operating budget of approximately $8.5 million per year; however under the proposed biennial budget, the OCC’s budget would be reduced to $4.1 million per year; and
WHEREAS, the OCC staff, which includes attorneys, accountants, economists, engineers, investigators and other highly skilled professionals participate in legal proceedings, analyze utility issues, educate customers, resolve informal complaints relating to utility services through the highly effective Consumer Call Center, and advocates on behalf of Ohio’s residential households; and
WHEREAS, in the current biennium, the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has saved customers $54.8 million directly through its advocacy, and an additional $1.9 billion in shared savings with other partners and furthermore, during the past 35 years the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel has saved utility customers $10 billion in avoided utility costs, thus the savings have far exceeded the costs; and
WHEREAS, any budget reduction to the OCC would not go back to the taxpayers, but would go to the utility companies, and the proposed budget cuts would have a detrimental impact on the residential utility customers of the State of Ohio and the ability of the Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel to effectively advocate on their behalf; NOW, THEREFORE,
BE IT RESOLVED by the Council of the City of Marion, Marion County, Ohio:
SECTION 1. Marion City Council recognizes the vital work of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel working with communities such as Marion, Ohio and Councils such as the City of Marion Council, along with local advocates such as the City of Marion Law Director as a coordinated team of strong consumer advocates working on behalf of the people who have to battle private utility monopolies and ensure the people of Marion and the balance of Ohio are protected from excessive and unjustifiable costs, rate and practices of utility monopolies.
SECTION 2. Marion City Council urges the Ohio Legislature to reconsider the Governor's proposal and instead place a more reasonable cut to the O.C.C. budget so as to preserve the mission of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and enable the O.C.C. to continue to work with communities such as Marion, Ohio and local advocates such as the City of Marion Law Director to ensure the people of Marion and Ohio are fairly and justly represented in regard to Ohio utilities.
SECTION 3. That this resolution is declared to be an emergency measure necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety and property of the City, and for the further reason that this resolution is required to be immediately effective in order for the General Assembly to enact budget legislation by June 30, 2011; and as such, shall take effect and be in force immediately upon its passage and approval by the Mayor, provided it receives the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all members elected to council; otherwise it shall become effective from and after the earliest period allowed by law.
Approved: Dave Edwards
President of Council
Mayor Scott Schertzer
Clerk of Council