CRESTVIEW — As city department heads search for ways to trim their budgets, the Public Works department has found one area where expenses can be reduced: street lighting.
The city's street lighting bill ranges between $30,000 and $33,000 a month, Public Works Director Wayne Steele said.
He said his department is preparing a grant application that would retrofit the city's high-pressure sodium streetlights with cost- and energy-efficient LED lighting.
"It'll be additional income for next year that we'll need for balancing the budget," assistant director Carlos Jones said.
Working with Gulf Power, the city has installed four LED streetlights on Industrial Drive between U.S. Highway 90 and Stillwell Boulevard to test the technology.
But there might be even more savings to be found, Steele said. To complete the grant application, Steele's department did a survey of all of the city's streetlights, finding 1,738 "cobra head" lights.
But, he said, Gulf Power bills the city for 2,855 cobra heads — the type of common streetlight that, from below, resembles a cobra's flared neck.
In reviewing lighting bills, Steele also found other inconsistencies.
"They charge us different prices for the same light in different places in the city," Steele reported to the City Council.
Steele said Gulf Power is working closely with the city to address the discrepancies. The utility will compare the city's streetlight assessment map with its own lighting information.
"They've stepped in to partner with the city," Steele said. "We have a good relationship with Gulf Power. We found discrepancies that need to be addressed and they're working with us."
"We are working with the city of Crestview to determine not only ways to help the city save money, but also to work out these discrepancies," Gulf Power spokeswoman Natalie Smith said.
Steele also said Gulf Power moved to immediately stop charging the city its own franchise fee on monthly bills.
Though the utility reimburses the fee to the city, "I'd rather the city keep their money rather than give it to Gulf Power for a month and then get it back," Steele said.
Council President Robyn Helt praised Steele for his tenacity in investigating the inconsistencies, researching the grant and working with Gulf Power to rein in city expenses.
Want to go?
The next Crestview City Council 2013-14 budget workshop is 3:30 p.m. Aug. 7 at City Hall and is open to the public.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.