We have been given a set of false choices regarding the water company transfer: Accept the deal that the mayor has brokered as is, or see our water rates go up
while our infrastructure needs go unmet.
Those aren't the only options.
Mayor Greg Ballard's proposed deal funds a broad menu of pork-barrel projects and everyone is poised at the trough. Marion County residents won't see the real cost until many of these elected officials are out of office and it's too late to do anything about it.
His proposed $450 million payment to the city would increase our water bill by about $29 million a year for 30 years. It's designed to do an end-run around property tax caps by increasing water bills instead of property taxes.
The right answer is that we should structure the deal in the most simplest, transparent, economical and accountable way possible. We should transfer the water company to Citizens Energy without any payments.
Citizens has an excellent reputation and is a nonprofit owned by the citizens of Marion County. Essentially, we would be transferring the utility from one city board to another -- except that the Citizens Energy board knows how to run a utility and is free from political influence.
In addition, Citizens Energy claims it can achieve significant savings from the combined utilities. The transfer should not include the provision in the mayor's proposal that Citizens Energy continue the expensive Veolia contract. There's no use in encumbering Citizens with the city's previous mistakes.
The mayor needs to pay for infrastructure improvements separately so he can be held accountable for their cost. Preferably, they would be funded through greater efficiency, as he promised when he ran for office. It could also come from redeveloping vacant and underutilized property in Marion County.
The cost shouldn't be hidden in water customer rate hikes.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Letter Writer Perfectly Captures Proposed City Uitlity "Sale" to Citizen's Energy
I don't think there is a single word in this Indianapolis Star letter to the editor penned by Kurt Wiegand that isn't spot on accurate when it comes to the proposed sale of the city's water and sewer utilities to Citizen's Energy: