Utility user fees to be diverted

July 3, 2010

While no one involved in destroying the finances of the water company, included the supposedly vaunted management team of Veolia has been reprimanded, fired, resigned, dismissed or arrested, an additional [wrong] is being perpetrated on the citizens of Indianapolis by our city-county councilors, Mayor [Greg] Ballard and the board of Citizens Energy, by negotiating a “sale” of the water company to Citizens.

This “sale” will be paid for by borrowing against the water and sewer user fees that should only be used for supporting the delivery of water and sewer services. Instead, over $260 million will be borrowed by Citizens (paid for by our user fees) for a 30-year period, with said funds being deposited in the coffers of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works.

The fees paid to the water company that have already been raised (and are proposed to be raised by more than a third) are now intended to be diverted to repave streets and repair and construct sidewalks.

Of course, we are supposed to be happy about this diversion of user fees because savings have been wrangled from so-called “value engineering” and additional savings have been projected from the synergistic effect of combining the water and sewer utilities under the management of Citizens Energy, a public trust.

Our happiness should occur despite the fact that sewer user fees are projected to rise by 400 percent over the next 10-20 years to pay for the $3.5 billion project related to the combined sewer overflow consent decree and septic elimination program, etc. Any savings that might occur should be reflected in a reduction of the proposed rate increases that water and sewer ratepayers would pay in the future.

Larry Williams

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