JEFFERSON CITY, M0. – Wednesday’s weekly agenda meeting of the Missouri Public Service Commission may have taken more time to get the commissioners on the phone than the actual business before the PSC did.

Each member joined by conference call Thursday morning, as only one single tariff and new order appeared on the docket.

The item in question concerned the assessment order for the 2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2017.

In the new order, the PSC estimates that the expenses in the coming fiscal year in regard to the regulation of public utilities would amount to $22,002,755.

Within that total, the PSC estimates that part of the expenses will be divided up among the regulation of the six groups of public utilities: electrical, gas, heating, water, sewer, and telephone, totaling $12,545,779.

In addition to the costs for each utility group, the Commission estimates the number of expenses that could not be attributed directly to any utility group to be $9,456,976. The Commission also estimates that the amount of Federal Gas Safety reimbursement will be $490,000. The unexpended balance in the Public Service Commission Fund in the hands of the State Treasurer on July 1, 2017, is estimated to be $2,774,963. The Commission deducts these amounts and estimates its Fiscal Year 2018 Assessment to be $18,737,792.

The Commission fixes the amount to be allocated to each group of public utilities as follows:

Electric ………………….………… $ 11,093,907

Gas ………………………………… $ 3,939,379

Steam/Heating …………………… $ 53,050

Water & Sewer……………………. $ 2,231,490

Telephone………………………….. $ 1,419,966

Total …………………….…………. $ 18,737,792

The Commission will collect an assessment for the Office of Public Counsel which is included in the total assessment amount of $18,737,792.

Following the PSC’s unanimous vote, Commission’s Director of Administration will issue a statement of the assessment to each public utility on or before July 1, 2017, at which point each utility will pay its assessment. The Budget and Fiscal Services Department will deliver checks to the Director of Revenue the day they are received.

While discussing the assessments, Chairman Daniel Hall noted that there was an increase in employee payroll costs of about $350,000, which he said is a result of increased contributions to employee retirement benefits. The assessments also identify a decrease in interstate operating revenue, of about $280 million, which they assume is because of a relatively warm winter.

All of the commissioners voted to approve the order with a unanimous 5-0 vote.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.