Council OKs company for utility audit

By Jessica Weston

News Review Correspondent

The Ridgecrest City Council voted last Wednesday to approve the selection of Utility Cost Management LLC to conduct a one-time utility usage and billings audit.

City utility costs top $400,000 annually according to a staff report, and the audit will cost the city essentially nothing. “We don’t have to pay to realize the savings, which is kind of a big deal,” Finance Director Rachelle McQuiston said in a later interview.

She explained the audit process at the meeting. “Basically the company comes in and they review your utility bills to see if there’s any errors,” she said. The company goes back historically and if it finds any savings it gets a percentage of the savings now and for the next three years.

The company’s percentage is negotiable, McQuiston explained. The audit company does not get paid unless the utility company agrees about the error.

During public comment, Ridge-crest resident Ronald Porter brought up concerns about errors in the utility company’s favor and potential liability issues.

The council unanimously voted to approve the selection and to allow McQuiston to negotiate the agreement.

“There’s no down side. That’s the explanation that we need to get across,” said Councilman Steven Morgan said.

“I’m so happy this is finally here,” added Vice Mayor Chip Holloway. He also suggested a telephone audit. “I know telephone’s notorious for mishaps in billing.”

McQuiston said she will investigate the possibility of conducting a telephone audit.

Story First Published: 2014-04-09