Lake Havasu City, AZ – In Lake Havasu City this past month, hundreds of individuals spoke out against Unisource’s Rate Proposal Case that would have implement demand charges on all residential electric bills. A proposal Supervisor Buster Johnson said could have raised residential bills by more than $30 a month. In response to the overwhelming opposition, Unisource has released a statement that they will not continue to pursue demand charges on non-solar customers. “I want to thank everyone who came out against this proposal. It is obvious that they have heard the voices of Mohave County residents,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. “While Unisource is dropping demand charges for all customers, they are still intending on asking the Corporation Commission for an increase in the base charge fee and to implement demand charges on new solar customers,” Johnson continued. Unisource Energy serves about 90,000 customers in Mohave and Santa Cruz County. In their proposal, they are asking the Arizona Corporation Commission to allow them to raise the customer base charge from the current $10 a month fee to $20. “This ten dollar increase would equal $900,000 more a month for this utility company,” Johnson stated. “We cannot be just satisfied with them dropping the demand charges. This increase is still left in their proposal and is still not justified or warranted. I still encourage people to file opposition against their proposal, and let them know that Mohave County residents do not want any type of unjustified increase,” Johnson continued. While non-solar customers won’t see demand charges implemented, new solar customers will see demand charges if Unisource’s proposal is approved. New solar customers would also see a change in net metering. Currently, UniSource solar customers get paid the full retail rate for excess power their solar panels send back to the grid. The proposal would drop the rate by about half, down to the rate the utility pays to purchase power from large-scale solar arrays. Mohave County’s overwhelming “no” on Unisource’s proposal was also heard by the Arizona Corporation Commission. Both Commissioners Doug Little and Bob Burns wrote letters earlier this month asking the parties involved to provide other options aside from demand charges. “Lake Havasu City is a retirement community for thousands of senior citizens and a second home to several winter visitors from across the U.S. This extra high charge will be almost impossible for residential ratepayers to control,” Supervisor Johnson said to the Commission during testimony earlier this month. Unisource’s revised proposal will still need final approval from the Corporation Commission. A decision is expected this coming June.
Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson submitted opposition today in regards to Unisource Electric’s rate structure case before the Arizona Corporation Commission. If approved, Supervisor Johnson strongly believes residents of Mohave County serviced by Unisource Electric could see their electric bill increase to nearly $30 a month with added demand charges. “Not only is Unisource asking the Corporation Commission to raise the base customer charge from $10 to $20 a month, they are asking them to add a third component to residential bills known as a demand charge,” Supervisor Johnson explained. “By doing this ratepayers will be charged based off their peak hourly energy use instead of only on their overall energy usage every month,” Johnson continued. The case before the Arizona Corporation Commission held hearings in Tucson on Tuesday and is expected to hold an open hearing in Kingman on March 31st. The Commission will make a final decision regarding Unisource’s proposal in June. According to Johnson, demand charges, while a commonplace for commercial and industrial customers, are rare nationwide for residential consumers. “This extra high charge will be almost impossible for residential ratepayers to control unless they go out and spend hundreds of dollars on smart plugs and sensors to monitor activity such as how much energy output a crockpot or coffee maker is producing every hour,” Johnson stated. “Tying residential usage to the highest hourly energy use during a billing period does not make sense,” Johnson continued. In Johnson’s letter to the Commissioners, he recommended that the Corporation Commission reevaluate the cost structure in relationship to alternative energy. “In 2006, the Commission required electrical utilities to obtain 15% of their retail generated energy from renewable resources by 2025,” Johnson explained. The Commission’s 06 ruling also required that the utilities obtain 6% by 2016. “By doing this, the Commission forced electric companies to use solar energy which is one of the most expensive forms of electricity out there right now,” Johnson explained. According to research provided by the US Department of Energy, the cost of solar energy averages around 5.8 cents per kilowatt-hour. With the price of natural gas currently down, traditional electricity averages 3 to 4 cents per kilowatt-hour and nuclear energy averages 2.5 to 3 cents. “The 15% requirement is putting a financial burden on electric companies as they rush to meet this deadline,” Johnson stated. “If the Commission is going to demand that a certain percentage of electricity come from renewable energy, they should let the electric companies use the cheapest form out there which right now is clean nuclear energy. These companies shouldn’t be forced to only choose the most expensive which right now is green energy,” Johnson continued. “On top of that, more folks are turning to solar to generate power as well as other means to save on electrical costs. If the Corporation Commission would relook at their 2006 ruling and lower state’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tarrif requirement, the burden on electrical companies would be lowered resulting in … Continue Reading →
Lake Havasu City, AZ – On Monday March 23rd, HB2128 was signed into law allowing state assessment ratios on property leased to churches or religious organizations to be reduced by 95%. According to Supervisor Buster Johnson, the reduction will only further impact the state’s troubled financial situation. “This bill will result in property tax losses for local governments as well as cost the state upwards to $2.1 million by fiscal year 2016,” Johnson stated. The Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) currently predicts that by the end of the fiscal year state expenditures will be $257 million more than state revenue. The courts have also ruled that the state owes $1.3 billion to the schools for inflation back payments which lawmakers have not paid nor included in their current budget. “With the financial situation of both the state and counties, instead of legislators looking to close up loop holes they are adding more exemptions,” Johnson stated. “This reduction with also further hurt other taxing jurisdictions within the counties such as schools and fire districts,” Johnson continued. According to Supervisor Johnson, this legislation is both costly and unnecessary. “Some commercial property owners help with lease payments for churches. The county’s libraries and senior centers are also available to all non-profits if they need space until they can afford to get their own building. We currently have one church who holds their Sunday service at the library for this very reason,” Johnson explained. Under current Arizona law, buildings owned by churches or religious entities already receive a significant tax break. This bill will allow the landlords who rent to these organizations to receive the same break. According to Mohave County Assessor Ron Nicholson this is a significant reduction. “Instead of a commercial property owner paying taxes based on 18% of the property’s value, they will now pay 1% of that value,” Nicholson explained. An amendment added HB2128 would require the churches to sign an affidavit stating the savings was passed onto them. “With the passage of this bill, more of the state budget is being funded on the backs of homeowners,” Johnson stated. In 2011, state lawmakers passed a corporate income tax reduction of 0.5 percentage points a year, settling at 4.9% in 2018 along with a 10% reduction in various business property-tax category assessments. Supervisor Johnson feels this tax break makes an unequal playing field among non-profits and takes taxable property off the tax rolls. “By offering this tax break to property that is being leased we are doing unforeseen harm to the housing market by removing property that would otherwise bring in revenue for counties and the state,” Johnson said. “With other non-profits not getting this break, it could also open the door for more tax breaks in coming years for other types of organizations. This is bad legislation and will cost the state a considerable amount of revenue and hurt local taxpayers over time,” Johnson ended. The bill passed the House on a 33-25 vote … Continue Reading →
Lake Havasu City, AZ – Supervisor Buster Johnson attended several meetings this past week with healthcare providers, emergency management personal and local law enforcement from around the county to discuss what an Ebola outbreak would look like should one arise in Mohave County. “Although every city has a plan in place for a disaster, if an outbreak of Ebola were to occur the statutory responsibility would automatically be transferred to our Mohave County Health Department Director Patty Mead,” Supervisor Johnson stated. “The County’s Health Department and Emergency Management Division have practiced many times for a pandemic, but an Ebola outbreak would involve many key players from around the county,” Johnson continued. According to Johnson, the meetings put together by the County’s Health Department involved first responders, hospital staff, doctors and the county’s Emergency Management Division. “These meetings brought everyone together to update them on the latest information from the Center for Disease Control and the Texas incident and also to review our plan,” Johnson stated. “With a virus like Ebola, health officials have to worry about more than just treatment of the patient. They also have to protect the general public along with putting protocols in place to ensure the safety of our first responders so they can continue to provide service to the community,” Johnson explained. The Mohave County Health Department has plans in place for the quarantine along with plans to ensure the security and personal needs of the quarantined individuals. “These individuals have to be secured inside away from human contact. If they need food or household supplies, it is going to be our responsibility to provide them,” Johnson explained. According to Johnson, the Health Department is prepared to provide guidance to healthcare partners regarding laboratory testing and case management, to provide specialized clean-up crews and to interview and watch all individuals the infected patient may have come into contact. According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, no known cases of Ebola have been suspected or confirmed in Arizona or Mohave County. “Ebola is a very serious virus with no known cure,” Johnson stated. “Informing the public about this deadly virus is just as important as stopping it. Our health department will immediately inform the public and provide as much information as possible along with continual updates should a case occur in Mohave County,” Johnson ended. Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with people who have Ebola, or through contact with their body fluids. Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain. Typically, symptoms appear 8-10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span two to 21 days. For more information on Ebola, please visit: http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/ To receive future updates and information regarding Mohave County, please sign up for our monthly newsletter or press release list at www.busterjohnson.com
Lake Havasu City, AZ – The Arizona Department of Revenue has notified Mohave County that 13 school districts within the county should anticipate receiving over $8 million total for fiscal year (FY) 2015 in real and personal property tax roll additional state aid to education (ASAE) dollars. “These funds will drastically help our school districts,” Supervisor Buster Johnson stated. “With only 17% of Mohave County being made up of private property, our school system cannot function on property tax dollars alone, which is why this funding is greatly needed,” Johnson continued. In the 1980s, the Arizona state legislature started a K-12 school finance system based on a statutory formula. Under this formula, school districts receive state aid based on student enrollment and property wealth. In Mohave County, the highest recipient of funding for FY15 will be the Lake Havasu Unified School District receiving the most at a little over $3.7 million. The second highest recipient will be the Kingman Unified School District with a little over $2 million. According to Mohave County Superintendent Mike File, the state aid dollars are sent out to school districts in three to four disbursements throughout the year. The funding aids districts in helping to pay teacher salaries, benefits, utilities, and building maintenance. The other school districts throughout the county that are anticipated to receiving this funding are: The Hackberry Elementary SD # 3: $20,689.70 Owens Elementary SD # 6: $3,103.66 Moccasin-Fredonia Elementary SD # 10: $15,532.92 Topock Elementary SD # 12: $53,470.14 Bullhead Elementary SD # 15: $669,433.19 Mohave Valley Elem. # 16: $443,627.91 Valentine Elem. SD # 22: $2,404.78 Colorado River UHS: $1,166,531.24 Peach Springs Unified SD # 8: $3,381.30 Littlefield/Mt.Trumbull Unified SD # 9: $87,927.36 Colorado City Unified SD # 14: $68,042.00