Several customers of the Johnson City Power Board hired attorney Jerome Cochran to inquire into a $500,000 donation from the Johnson City Power Board to East Tennessee State University for the construction of a performing arts center. We believe this doesn’t comply with Tennessee Valley Authority guidelines and is illegal.
In the past, when the JCPB made a decision that was questioned, the Power Board always replied they were following TVA guidelines. TVA contribution guidelines state that contributions for art and culture are limited to in-kind contributions. Under TVA’s use of revenue guidelines, it also states that contributions be given in a de-minimus amount (so minor as to disregard). These guidelines clearly support our position.
Now, the JCPB says it doesn’t have to follow TVA guidelines. In August, the JCPB CEO asked TVA to contribute to the arts project. To date, TVA has not replied. When asked for a list of JCPB contributions, we were informed we must pay $4,000 in advance to obtain this information. City Commissioner Jenny Brock, the chairman of the Board of Directors, should be helping us to obtain the information instead of impeding our efforts.
The board’s attorney stated the JCPB has 75,000 customers and to raise the $500,000 would cost a contribution of $7 per customer. The JCPB fails to realize that some of these customers are in a situation that they have to turn off their heat in the winter to keep their electric bills affordable.
If the state and private donors want to fund an arts center, I applaud their efforts. Public utilities have no right to take from the ratepayers and gift it away.
The JCPB gives away the ratepayer’s money and then says it’s none of our business who received it?