Wednesday Oct 21 2009
Utility chief to retire
By: Megan Wood The Press Tribune
City management shake-up continues
It’s lights out for Roseville Electric Utility Director Tom Habashi, who announced Monday that he would retire at the end of the year. The announcement came after a decision Habashi made months ago, he said in a press release, but he said he waited until the “right time” to make the announcement of his departure. “It’s been in the plan for some time. I think a good time frame to be in the top spot of any organization is five to 10 years,” Habashi said. “When I leave I will have worked for Roseville for 11 years. It was just beginning to be outside my level of comfort.” The announcement comes just weeks after the city council opted to place City Manager Craig Robinson on administrative leave and only one week after Habashi asked council members to approve three 6.2 percent rate increases for Roseville Electric customers. “Announcing my retirement in the middle of the rate case doesn’t give the community or the council confidence that what I was doing was the right thing,” Habashi said. “On the day of my decision (to retire) council was making other decisions and it didn’t seem appropriate to make the announcement.” Habashi said if he had announced his retirement before council made a decision on the rate increases they may have delayed making a decision until a new director could be found, which would have delayed the process and he said he thought the utility might have suffered. “The focus at the time was the rate case, which needed the attention of the organization leaders, not on my retirement,” Habashi said. “I didn’t want to leave any room for doubt that what I was doing was with the best interest of the utility in mind.” Roseville resident and regular audience member at city council meetings Phil Ozenick disagreed and said that Habashi’s retirement announcement is long overdue. “He managed the electric department poorly, hedging on natural gas and has cost the rate payers a pretty penny,” Ozenick said. Ozenick said he believed that Habashi’s announcement comes from sensing dissatisfaction in the management of the power plant from residents. “I think he saw the writing on the wall,” Ozenick said. “If he would have been sitting at my telephone he would have been getting calls everyday about what a shame it is to raise rates in a recession.” Officials at Roseville Electric frequently lauded the company as being more reliable than its competition while retaining competitive rates and a high customer satisfaction rating. The ratings were calculated quarterly and Habashi noted the consistency as one of the highlights of working for the power plant. “We’ve always made decisions that lived up to our policies,” Habashi said. “Our rates are still competitive, our reliability is better than our competitors and our customer satisfaction is high, which I am proud to say we have regularly done very well.” Habashi will retire in December after 11 years as director of Roseville Electric and 28 years in the electric industry.