8News Investigative Reporter Kerri O'Brien gets answers from city officials on this issue tonight at 11, don't miss her report.
Richmond, VA—After months of carefully observing Richmond City Hall and noticing that the lights burned bright at all hours of the day and night, 8News investigated how many of your tax dollars are being wasted on powering the building…even when no one is there.
8News filmed City Hall over a period of several days; even after midnight, the building was lit up like a Christmas tree. We obtained the electric bills for City Hall for the past 12 months and found that the City of Richmond spent close to $1 million powering up the building in 2012. January 2013's bill alone totaled more than $60,000. These bills are being paid with taxpayer dollars.
When presented our recorded evidence of City Hall shining bright at night to the city's Sustainability Manager, Alicia Zatcoff. When we asked why City Hall was powered up around the clock, she responded, "Great question great observation. We have made the same observation ourselves."
Zatcoff explained to 8News that the City is aware of their lighting problem, as well as all the money being wasted. They are currently taking steps to correct the problem.
Mayor Dwight Jones took notice of the large electric bills soon after he took office back in 2009, but fixing the problem isn't as simple as turning off a light switch. Zatcoff clarified, "It's because of the wiring and the age of the wiring."
As we investigated further, we found that most of City Hall is without light switches. To allow for moveable office space, the building was constructed in a way where most rooms don't have a switch that can be turned off at the end of the business day. Instead, there is one central breaker.
"We have been working on city hall and we know the issues that exist and we've now taking the next step with the lighting project," Zatcoff told us, and added, "We are instituting lighting controls."
When we walked around City Hall, we noticed that work is indeed underway. When it's completed, city employees will be able to turn off the lights overnight, which is a sure way to save taxpayers money.
While the improvements are more than welcome, we asked why it took until 2009 to address the problem. City officials seemed to be in the dark about this query.
"Good question," said Zatcoff, "and unfortunately, I don't have an answer for that. But I think the important thing to stress is we're addressing it now, we know it's a problem."
Stay with 8News for updates.
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