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New general manager named for Independence Power & Light

'Hopefully, it'll be a little bit of stability'
independence utilities center
Posted at 5:40 PM, Jun 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 18:40:36-04

INDEPENDENCE, MO — The city of Independence has hired a new general manager for the city's utility, Independence Power & Light.

James Nail has served as interim GM for the past six months. He told 41 Action News he looks forward to bringing some consistency to the position.

"We have had a lot of transition over the last several years," Nail said. "Now is the time, I think, we can settle down and start working through some of the different challenges that are ahead of us."

In 2018, Andy Boatright abruptly stepped down from the position after calling the city council's ethics into question during a council meeting.

In June 2018, Curt Dougherty, then councilman for District 2, proposed slashing nine IPL jobs, which he said would save taxpayers' money.

During an emergency meeting, Boatright publicly expressed his disappointment in the city council and questioned the motive behind the abrupt decision.

"Staffing cuts put forth by the city council are severely misdirected and makes one wonder the real motivations at this stage of the process," Boatright said. "There are meaningful, productive and thoughtful, moral ways to cut costs."

Boatright quit IPL after that meeting.

The city hired another GM for IPL after Boatright but she only stayed on the job for six months.

Prior to Boatright, Leon Dagget was the head of IPL. He left after 10 years with a $750,000 severance package.

Aside from the turnover in leadership, IPL has faced scrutiny from citizens who say they've faced challenges with the billing system.

In 2018, a class-action lawsuit was filed against the city and IPL that claims ratepayers received bills for excessive costs due to the city rolling a flawed billing system.

Nail said he plans to work as a team with the staff to provide an efficient and well-run utility.

"Looking ahead, we are in a time of transition, we will be working together with all the parts of the PPL system to make sure we're providing the most efficient and effective service we can," Nail said.

Zack Walker, city manager, said Nail helped to implement a six percent utility reduction that rolled out last year.

"Obviously, a win always feels good," Nail said. "For the past six months we've been working hard and it's a team effort."

Nail is now working on changing rate descriptions.

Meg Lewis, spokeswoman for Independence, said there are 26 descriptions, but IPL is working to get that down to ten. The change will simplify the rates for customers, Lewis said.

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