March 28, 2018
KENTUCKY POWER NAMES NEW EXTERNAL AFFAIRS MANAGER, INTERIM MANAGER IN PIKEVILLE
By Allison Barker
ASHLAND, Ky., March 29, 2018 – Kentucky Power has named Bob Shurtleff an external affairs manager to be located in Pikeville. He previously served as manager of distribution services over the Pikeville Service District, Kentucky Power’s largest in the 20-county service territory.
In his new role, Shurtleff will report to External Affairs Manager Jacob Colley, who will relocate to Ashland. The external affairs team also includes Amy Elliott, who is based in Frankfort. The team’s focus is on government affairs, economic development and community affairs.
“Bob is well known and respected for his knowledge and experience not only in the region but also across Kentucky,” Colley said. “I am excited to have Bob take on this new role as we continue our work on bettering our communities and leading economic development in eastern Kentucky.”
Shurtleff, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, joined Kentucky Power in 1985. In nearly 33 years with the company, he has experience working as a lineman, team leader, technician supervisor and district manager.
Carolyn Thacker, meter revenue operations supervisor, has been named interim manager distribution services in the Pikeville District to provide a seamless transition as Shurtleff assumes his new role.
“Bob is highly regarded as someone with integrity and will do well in this new position,” said Everett Phillips, managing director region distribution operations. “Carolyn also is well respected and has the background to step into her new role as we work to redefine operations in Pikeville and place more emphasis on the customer experience.”
Kentucky Power, with headquarters in Ashland, provides service to about 168,000 customers in all or part of 20 eastern Kentucky counties, including Boyd, Breathitt, Carter, Clay, Elliott, Floyd, Greenup, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Leslie, Letcher, Lewis, Magoffin, Martin, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Pike and Rowan. Kentucky Power is an operating company in the AEP system, one of the largest electric utilities in the U.S., delivering electricity and custom energy solutions to 5.4 million regulated customers in 11 states.
HANCOCK COUNTY ALUMINUM PLANT GETTING $100 MILLION MAKEOVER
Trump tarriffs get credit for rise in U.S. Production
By Dave Taylor
The Hancock Clarion
Century Aluminum is moving “full speed ahead” on the process of spending $100 million to restart and upgrade the three idled potlines at its Hawesville smelter and hire 300 workers despite concerns over several countries receiving exemptions to aluminum and steel tariffs recently enacted by the Trump administration because of unfair foreign competition.
The plant will begin bringing up a few pots a day sometime late in the second quarter of this year.
“We think sometime in the third quarter that line will be fully up and going,” Century Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jesse Gray said.
Century had idled lines one, three and five near the end of 2015 after it said it couldn’t compete with the glut of cheap, government subsidized Chinese aluminum that it alleged was being brought illegally into the U.S.
In early March, President Trump signed an order imposing a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and a 10 percent tariff on foreign aluminum, which Century said would allow domestic producers to compete again. But soon afterward, some countries began receiving exemptions on the premise they shouldn’t be punished for the actions of others.
Canada, Mexico, The EU, Brazil and South Korea have been granted exemptions.
Century Aluminum was one of the leaders in the push for remedies against what it said was unfair production in China – forcing some American smelters to close despite a promising market.
Louisville, state brace for pension and budget actions as General Assembly session draws to a close
By Joe Sonka
Local governments, school districts and college campuses across the state are closely watching the Kentucky General Assembly as the 2018 legislative session enters its final days, as actions on pension legislation and hammering out a two-year state budget will have a large impact on those institutions.
Pension legislation is of particular concern, as many cities and counties are set to have a massive increase in employer pension costs for local workers unless Senate Bill 66 passes, which would limit such annual increases to 12 percent over the next 10 years. However, with the chances of passage for Senate Bill 1 plummeting — the comprehensive pension bill altering the plans of state and local public workers and teachers — Republican Senate leaders have said that SB 66 would not receive a vote if SB 1 fails.
Republican leaders of the Senate and House say the two bills are inextricably linked, but advocates for local agencies that would be affected by the failure of SB 66 — such as the Kentucky League of Cities and Kentucky School Boards Association — say that is false, as SB 1 doesn’t make any structural reforms to the County Employees Retirement System (CERS) plan of their local employees. Some have gone as far as to suggest that GOP leaders are holding SB 66 “hostage” so that local agencies are forced to lobby legislators to support the comprehensive pension bill that appears to now be on life support.
With four legislative days left in the 2018 session — Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, plus two more days after the 10-day veto period of the governor — Louisville Metro Government and Jefferson County Public Schools are monitoring these pension bills with great interest, as millions of dollars are at stake.
Additionally, the University of Louisville is waiting to see if the two-year state budget that will likely be passed Wednesday will cut its appropriations by 6.25 percent — as the Senate did in their budget passed last week — or if these cuts will be eliminated as they were in the budget passed by the House, or somewhere in between.
Louisville Metro Government
According to a March 16 letter from Mayor Greg Fischer to the Louisville delegation of the General Assembly, the failure of SB 66 to pass would cause the city government to be hit with “an unprecedented $38 million increase” in employer pension costs in the city budget for the next fiscal year. With other potential pension-related state budget cuts, Fischer added that Louisville Metro Government “could face closer to a $50 million budget deficit.”
Calling such an increase “devastating” for Louisville, the mayor added that such a deficit “would lead to draconian cuts to services and programs that residents depend on” — including potential loss of services, such as public safety, job creation efforts, parks, community centers and libraries.
This matter is further complicated by the fact that Fischer is set to present his next budget to Metro Council on April 26, and his staff does not yet know whether or not a $50 million hole will exist when the legislative session ends on April 13.
The mayor is likely to request more increases to budget appropriations for public safety, road paving, affordable housing and public health efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, but the deficit created by the failure of SB 66 would likely undermine such goals, or lead to significant cuts to other programs and services.
Jefferson County Public Schools
According to JCPS, the failure of SB 66 to pass would also have an immediately impact on its employer payments to CERS, but that impact would not be as dire for local schools as the one laid out by Mayor Fischer for city government.
Without the passage of SB 66, JCPS spokeswoman Allison Martin tells Insider Louisville that the district’s CERS payments for the next fiscal year would increase by nearly $11 million. However, by switching to an increase of as much as 12 percent over the next 10 years under the provisions of that bill, it “could actually increase our cumulative expenses” over that period.
Martin added that SB 66 “postpones the impact, but certainly does not eliminate the cost to Districts of rescuing the retirement system.”
The General Assembly’s two-year state budget bill will be a compromise between the ones passed by the House and Senate, with local districts like JCPS hoping this leans toward the more generous House version.
Per-pupil SEEK funding in the House bill was $4,055, slightly higher than the $3,984 of the Senate bill — both increasing the current level. The SEEK funding in the Senate bill was lower due to the chamber eliminating the proposed tobacco and opioid tax increases that were in the House bill.
The Senate bill also cuts Family Resource and Youth Service Centers by 6.25 percent, in addition to including larger cuts to LARS (Learning and Results Services), programs. The Senate version also included language requiring districts to curb administrative costs and mandated that electronic security be installed at the front entrance of all schools, without additional funding for such installations.
Both versions of the budget bill cut funding for professional development and textbooks.
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