By: Contributor
22 December, 2012

By Linda Bence

District One of the Kit Carson Electric Membership has four trustees including the recently-resigned Francis Cordova. His seat should remain vacant until the scheduled elections next May. Everyone is aware of Luis’ attempt to run the charade of a selection process to seat one of his cronies, either David Torres or Tim Martinez, for the brief period before the next election. It is an insult to members to consider placing David Torres in the seat as he was soundly defeated in the past election. It is a waste of everyone’s time and a particular waste of limited electric funds to run this sham selection process.

Costs are considerable in seating an interim trustee. The current trustees will have the opportunity to siphon off more funds from ratepayers who haven’t seen a dime credited to their capital credit accounts since 2008. Costs, at a minimum, will include payment of $150 stipend plus mileage per day to nine of the eleven sitting trustees, excluding Peter Adang and Chris Duran who have elected to forego compensation, to “consider” and review applications and to conduct perfunctory interviews when the pre-determined outcome has been known from day one. There are also costs for radio advertisement, running twice an hour on KVOT, the mayor’s station. This is a nice bonus for Luis’ friend, Mayor Darren Cordova, who has stated on the radio that his businesses are slow this year. I am sure that other stations are sharing in revenue as well as the Taos News who is running large print ads. This whole process is taking place over the holiday period when people are busy, allowing Luis to hope that we won’t be paying attention to the news allowing him to glide under the radar.

Seating a temporary trustee for the four months prior to the election will cost ratepayers additional expenses of approximately $15,000 as the interim “trustee” will begin classes for certification which take place on multi-day trips to luxury hotels in prime vacation spots. The interim trustee candidate may or may not win election in May making the expenses potentially worthless to members. Seating an interim trustee is a blatant calculated attempt by Luis Reyes to give an unfair advantage to a candidate of his choosing in the elections in May.

Kit Carson’s finances are in complete disarray. The co-op has been caught in a continual financial bind due to the unexpected lower revenues exacerbated by the unusually warm weather this fall. No one can accurately predict what the weather will be like this winter. In addition, there are ever-growing numbers of members who are unable to pay their bills who are depending on reduced and dwindling funds in LIHEAP and Members Helping Members Programs. New expenses for legal fees for a potential PRC hearing have arisen as Kit Carson is challenging Tri-State’s 4.8% increase that is due to begin in January. Members are also shouldering expenses of approximately $15,000 a month (as per the RUS) to pay off the loan for the vacant Command Center. Negotiations with the town to move the 911 operations are never ending and it’s anyone’s guess whether a lease will result.

The contracts for both the Command Center and the Broadband Initiative with the RUS state that Kit Carson must retain a TIER (times interest earned ratio) of 1.25 for two out of three years. This is the third year in a row that Kit Carson will fail this requirement which may bring Kit Carson into default with the RUS. Kit Carson has also failed to provide the PRC with a report showing its plan to reduce operating expenses and travel for the board as was required in the PRC Hearing Officer’s Final Report on last year’s rate increase hearings.

This whole procedure highlights the need for the co-op to modernize its procedures and to adopt both the Open Meetings and Information for Public Information Acts, to hold meetings in the evening when working members can attend and to review and adopt new voting measures to allow greater participation of members in electing trustees.

Members cannot afford this indiscriminate spending and they should call Luis Reyes at 741-0213 or e-mail him at lreyes@kitcarson.com and tell him to leave the seat vacant for this brief period of time to allow the spring election process to proceed without tampering by Luis and the board.

Linda Bence
Taos Resident

(P.S. I submitted the above letter to the TN as a My Turn and I was turned down by Joan Livingston who felt that my letter was inflammatory and speculative. I think the speculation was in my stating that David Torres or Tim Martinez were Luis’ choices for trustee. I believe the fact that David Torres, was the only non-employee/trustee invited to the Kit Carson Christmas Party and that he was schmoozing it up with the trustees like he belonged there removes all speculation as to who Luis will appoint on December 27th. Yes, you might conclude some of my FACTS are inflammatory but they are all facts not speculations. I do my homework and wouldn’t print anything that I cannot back up with written proof. Unfortunately, Joan has to CHA because she doesn’t want to dry up advertising revenue. Linda)

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