Lancaster City Manager touts innovative thinking for city governments

The Daily Independent

When Lancaster City Manager Jason Caudle spoke at the IWV Economic Outlook Conference Feb. 17, he started by joking that “this presentation is going to blow your head off the top of your shoulders.”

Caudle was joking of course — after his presentation, everyone present had heads firmly attached — but the comment was his way of preparing the audience for his perhaps unfamiliar ideas about how cities can acquire more revenue.

Specifically, Caudle said he wanted to encourage citizens and city governments to think creatively when it comes to finding funds.

One example he gave was something called Community Choice Aggregation. According to the EPA, CCA consists of “programs that allow local governments to procure power on behalf of their residents, businesses, and municipal accounts from an alternate supplier while still receiving transmission and distribution service from their existing utility provider.” CCAs are currently authorized in seven states: California, Illinois, Ohio, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island.

Caudle said Lancaster created CCA in partnership with Edison and the energy revenue generated from CCA is $4 million a year. He compared his to the $1 million a year generated by the Costco in Lancaster, adding “to create or replicate 4 Costcos in this marketplace you’d have to quadruple the population of the Antelope Valley” as well as provide additional services.

Caudle noted that many city budgets are strapped for funds, due to multiple issues including e-commerce reducing brick and mortar stores and the associated property tax.

He used an analogy, saying many cities are making hamburgers for $10 and selling them for $8. Continuing the analogy, he said Measure V is what is making up the deficit in “hamburger” prices in the Ridgecrest city budget.

Using what he said was Lancaster’s positive experience with creating a CCA as one example, he encouraged the community and city of Ridgecrest to get together and look for creative and innovative ways to increase revenue streams or make money, test new ideas and push the envelope.

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