Dole maintains approval rating above 50 percent

Published 9:25 pm Saturday, April 21, 2007

By Staff
Tasked with making them self-sufficient
News Editor
James Tripp says he isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. And the City of Washington has given him a new one —to help it save money.
Ousted as town manager of Plymouth last August, Tripp took about a six-month hiatus before he began working as the City of Washington’s enterprise-funds controller last month. In the position, he’s charged with making the city’s sewer, stormwater, airport, electric and water funds self-sufficient.
That’s no small task.
The city council voted in December 2006 to create the controller position after learning four of its five enterprise funds were operating at losses. During the fiscal year that ended June 30, 2006, only the water fund posted an income.
That word came on the heels of a city council vote in October 2006 that increased electric rates by 5.25 percent. The action was taken so the city could avoid a $1.6 million shortfall between the cost of wholesale power purchased by the city and the revenue that selling it generated.
Tripp’s new job isn’t his first with the city. He worked in the public works department in 2002, then became a Beaufort County planner in 2003 before going to Plymouth in April 2004.
He said he knows electric rates are one of the hot-button issues for customers. The city has about 12,000 accounts, both commercial and residential, he said.
The devices help regulate water heaters and air-conditioning units.
They are installed free by request and can earn a customer a $2.50 monthly credit for a water heater and a $3.50 savings for an air-conditioning unit, he said.