Special Lighting District Proposal

A project intended to account for and collect unpaid fees instead shifts costs to residential customers.
Post-Standard letter.

April 10, 2015

To the Editor:

I applaud the City's effort to research, account for, and simplify its special lighting districts in an attempt to properly assess and collect fees it is due. However, after reviewing the pending legislation and related documents for special lighting districts, I see a number of begging questions.

The new law proposes to charge all new districts (except Urban Core) 100% for the assets and energy cost of special lighting. Shouldn't the charge be for the difference between special lighting and normal lighting cost? The old 50% rate would be closer to fair.

Why is there a 10 fold difference among special lighting charges? My quick survey found no more than a 2 fold variation in asset costs. Also, amortization of assets are a minor part of special lighting costs; installation, maintenance, and energy use---roughly equal for all---are the majority costs. The special lighting fees National Grid charges the City seem high and erratic. I think the City should review and renegotiate them.

"Specialty Lighting" is not "special". It is lighting installed when and where utility lines are buried. Its cost is simply the cost of installing light poles where utility poles don't exist. Light poles don't cost that much.

Though the original project endeavor was to account for and collect unpaid/uncharged special lighting fees, the result includes shifting costs from the City to property owners (50% -> 100%) except downtown---mostly commercial---properties (100% -> 50%). Why the change?

It seems most municipalities charge residential districts 50%, and business districts 100%, of special lighting costs. I don't see why Syracuse should flip this policy. If the City pays 50%, it will have "skin in the game", and will have incentive to negotiate reasonable fees for the construction and maintenance of special lighting.

Carlo Moneti