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Groups Urge City to Hold Vote on Independent Austin Energy Board

Ann Choi KUT News

A group of activists are adamant that only elected officials make up Austin’s Utility board.

Today at City Hall, a coalition of environmental groups urged the city council not to vote for an ordinance that would have non-elected individuals oversee the city-run utility, Austin Energy.

They cited the precedent set in San Antonio in handing over control of the city’s utility to non-elected board members. The activists argued that the move resulted in lack of accountability and investing in projects benefiting private groups.

“Why should Austin want to un-bury what has already happened and failed in San Antonio? Support corporate accountability and the choice Austin residents have in making the city a safe place to live,” Laura Para-Colinas is with Energia Mia, a group based in San Antonio.

They asked the City to have a public hearing on the ordinance before taking it up to vote. 

"The ordinance is being fast-tracked by Mayor Leffingwell, Council member Cole and Spelman before the public gets a chance to hear different perspectives on the issue," Karen Hadden, director of SEED Coalition said. 

However the City argues that Austin’s utility has been growing too fast and big for the city officials to govern over.  Mayor Leffingwell submitted the ordinance that would create an independent governing board last March. 

The council will vote on the ordinance this Thursday.

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