Nobody is giving back any money.

And utility customers still will foot the bill - $333,348 in secret bonuses paid in December to eight Philadelphia Gas Works executives.

A grumbly Philadelphia Gas Commission, which has oversight responsibility for PGW's finances, voted, 4-1, Friday to approve the agency's fiscal 2016 budget with an addendum noting the bonus payments.

Only Commissioner John Thomas voted nay, saying the cost of the bonuses should be charged to the city, as the owner of PGW, and not borne by utility ratepayers.

Commissioner Royal Brown voted aye - but voiced displeasure.

In the past, he said, management bonuses have been clearly and specifically itemized in the PGW budget, and he expects that to be the rule in the future.

"The lapse is surprising," he said. "These are highly unusual circumstances that I do not expect to recur."

The bonuses came to light in an April 10 Inquirer article.

The commission has said it was not informed of and did not approve the plan, whose purpose was to induce key executives not to leave PGW during a 2014 process aimed at selling the utility. Top executives, headed by CEO Craig White, were guaranteed bonuses regardless of the sale's outcome as long as they "actively supported the sale process," according to the plan.

The $1.86 billion sale to UIL Holdings Corp. ultimately failed.

PGW, which disputes the Gas Commission's contention that it had not been informed of the bonus plan, said the utility's board of directors, the nonprofit Philadelphia Facilities Management Corp., approved it. PGW maintains that the expense was included in the budget but was not explicitly explained. PGW said the names of the executives were redacted, but the plan itself was clearly spelled out to Gas Commission.

Public Advocate Thu Tran said that if the bonus plan had been publicized, "we would have wanted to ask more questions."

"These bonuses," she said during the 30-minute meeting, "are not discretionary in the normal course of business. . . . The burden is on PGW to show these are necessary and prudent expenses."

jgammage@phillynews.com

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@JeffGammage