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CPS: “I’ll take a bonus, you take a rate hike”

Photo: Mary Tuma, License: N/A

Mary Tuma

CPS Energy asks customers pay an extra 4.75 percent as top-level employees see sizeable bonus checks (see sacurrent.com for dollar amounts)

Photo: Courtesy, License: N/A

Courtesy


“[A]n executive pay increase of 58 percent over the past two years seems excessive by any objective measure,” Medina writes.*

In the past, CPS diffused the generous incentives by reminding consumers a rate hike wasn’t on the table. But now the game has changed, leaving some citizens incensed.

Bob Martin, president of the Homeowner Taxpayer Association of Bexar County, vigilantly monitors CPS. He calls the rate increase “outrageous” in light of the fat bonuses paid out to top-level employees.

“The bonuses are absurd,” said Martin. “I’d say they should reform this salary looting and then come back and ask me for a rate increase.”

CPS spokesperson Christine Patmon stresses the employee salary increases are a result of retaining a highly skilled workforce. She says Beneby is actually “underpaid” when compared with his CEO counterparts in the private sector—yet, the comparison is somewhat befuddling considering that CPS is a publicly owned utility, not a private company.

“What the community needs to understand is that everything we do in the energy business has high price tags, it’s not small potato stuff. It’s not what we pay for, it’s the price that’s driven by the industry,” said Patmon.

Incidentally, those high price tags also encompass top-level executive salaries.

In defense of its requested bill hike, CPS continually refers to the fact the City of San Antonio’s rates still fall below those of other major cities—and that’s certainly true. But what they don’t factor in is comparable poverty rates. With the exception of El Paso, the income of San Antonio residents fall below the poverty line at a higher percentage, according to recent U.S. Census Bureau stats, than residents in Corpus Christi, Austin, Houston and Dallas—cities CPS uses to justify its rate increase.

“They’re not accounting for how poor some people in San Antonio are compared with those other cities,” said Martin. “We’ve got a lot of people out here struggling to make ends meet, I don’t see how they can afford this.”

* CPS disputed a similar claim made by the Express-News in a May 2, 2013 blog post

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