MLGW will start 2018 without a budget

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Memphis Light, Gas, and Water will start the new year without a budget.

Before voting to remove the Confederate statues at their meeting last week, Memphis City Council members put the brakes on gas, water, and electric rate hikes, which put a hold on MLGW's proposed budget.

The council will meet again in early January, and Chairman Berlin Boyd said he anticipates a budget will eventually be approved.

"MLGW needs to make sure that we are adequately funded," said Jerry Collins, MLGW President and CEO, back in late November.

At the time, Collins first went before council members for water, gas, and electric rate increases. Collins said MLGW was running an unbalanced budget for the gas and electric divisions, so rates had to go up. The proposed water hike would pay for aquifer research.

"We represent constituents that this increase will dramatically impact their bottom line," said Boyd on Tuesday afternoon.

Last week, the council rejected the water rate increase and sent the gas and electric increases back to committee.  Boyd said he and other council members needed more time to look at the request.

"We just wanted to make sure that whenever you bring up rate increases, instead of springing it on us right during budget season, prepare us," he said.

Boyd told WMC Action News 5 that he wants to make sure MLGW has identified potential cost savings in its budget first.

The utility said last week it could get a bad bond rating if no budget is in place, as city ordinance requires MLGW have a budget by Jan. 15.

"I feel pretty optimistic that we will get them a budget by mid-January," Boyd said, "Whether or not that budget will be approved with some rate increases, I don't know."

The next Memphis City Council meeting is scheduled for Jan. 3.

WMC Action News 5 did reach out to MLGW on Tuesday for comment and a spokesperson told us the offices were closed, and they could assist on Wednesday.

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