Lake Worth's "Utility Crack" Problem
Electricity is a huge issue in the upcoming Lake Worth City Commission election. Yes, it sounds small-town and petty, but for years, high bills and frequent outages have been a black eye for the city. Ask any hippie, artsy West Palm Beacher why he doesn't live in the town where he drinks kava and strums a guitar and he'll roll his eyes and snort about electricity.
"It's like utility crack," Lisa Maxwell, a commission candidate, said at a recent debate. "Any time there's a budget shortfall, the city just kind of reaches into your wallet."
Lake Worth gets its power from the Florida Municipal Power Agency -- a co-op jointly owned by cities throughout the state. Maxwell was griping because the city relies on revenue from the utility to fill gaps in the general budget.
Although the city has voted to sever its contract with FMPA, the deal hasn't ended yet. Which means, in the last week, while dueling commission candidates sent out mailers claiming they each had the solution for lower rates, the fuse box remained as fickle as ever. In other words, power in my downtown Lake Worth apartment went out -- twice.
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The first time was in the middle of a sunny Wednesday afternoon. No wind, no rain, no fire-breathing dragons. Yet the power was zapped for an hour. Sunday night, around 11, it happened again. This time, there was a storm, but it couldn't have been all that bad, because the lights sprung back on again in under an hour.
Dear politicos: The election is a week away. If you want to win votes in this cranky, creative town, the least you can do is keep the lights on.
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