Regner to retire, new commissioner sought

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 22, 1999

Mayor Bonnie Rietz is looking for a volunteer to help oversee a $25 million a year business.

Monday, November 22, 1999

Mayor Bonnie Rietz is looking for a volunteer to help oversee a $25 million a year business. Any Austin resident of voting age may apply.

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The position? Austin Utilities Commissioner.

Board President Ken Regner is the reason for the opening. Regner, who is resigning Dec. 31, has served on the board since May of 1985. He leaves with one year left on his latest term; his replacement would be appointed for that year. Elections for his seat and two others are set for November 2000.

"Being on the Utility Board is a very important job," Rietz said. "We may be looking at electric deregulation in the near future – we need a board that can help us through that. The Utilities is also in the process of hiring a new general manager. The person who does this (takes on the role of commissioner for the remainder of Regner’s term) is serving a very important role in the community."

Austin Utilities is a municipal utility which provides electricity, water and gas to the community – the Board of Commissioners oversees the utility. There is no financial compensation for the commissioners currently, although the city is discussing a change to charter that would allow pay for the position.

For a board that boasts several long-serving members, the latter half of 1999 has been unusual. Already there is one new face on the board – also appointed by the mayor – that of Tom Baudler. Baudler was appointed in September, chosen from 11 other applicants.

Of those 11, five have indicated that they would like to be considered for the seat being vacated by Regner.

They are: Curt Rude, Austin Police Department Lieutenant; Vern Lippert, Senior Staff Engineer at Hormel Foods Corp.; Judy Erickson, Confidential Secretary to the Austin Police Department; Shawn Leighton, advertising/marketing Austin Post Bulletin; and Gloria Ash, Work Trainer at Cedar Valley Top Flight.

The only new application received so far is from Larry Pfeil, Vice President of Engineering at the Hormel Foods Corp.

Applications are available at City Hall and may be returned through Nov. 30. Interviews with the mayor will be scheduled for Dec. 1, with the appointment to be made at the Dec. 6 Austin City Council meeting. The new commissioner will be appointed by the mayor, although council members are invited to sit in on the interviews and to submit their top three choices to the mayor.