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2004 Water Rates News

November, 2004
Lawrence, Indiana water rates too high under management of private firm, consumer advocates argue

Water rates in Lawrence have doubled since then-Mayor Thomas D. Schneider turned over control of the city’s water and sewer utilities in mid-2001 to several of his political supporter. Schneider awarded their company a contract with no competitive bidding. A 1982 law allows cities and towns to free their publicly owned water utilities from Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission oversight. AP/Ft. Wayne.com 11/29/04

Atlanta could shut off one fourth of its water customers as it tries to collect $35 million in overdue bills

On the heels of hard-won water rate and sales tax increases to pay for $3 billion in sewer improvements, the Atlanta Department of Watershed Management has decided to rein in its debtors. Two dozen workers are turning off the water of customers who are more than 30 days delinquent, estimated to be about a quarter of the city's 134,000 active accounts. In January, the City Council approved yearly rate increases until 2008, on a sliding scale that will eventually triple rates for the biggest water users. The sewer system is notoriously broken in places, in heavy rains dumping sewage into the Chattahoochee River and backing up plumbing in neighborhoods. A federal judge had threatened a moratorium on new sewer hookups if it was not fixed.  New York Times_ 11/3/04 (logon required)

October, 2004

Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control orders Aquarian Water Co. to cut rates to some customers and keep rates the same for others

Bridgeport-based Aquarion sought to increase revenues by nearly 14 percent to pay for infrastructure improvements, including work on dams, water mains, storage tanks, pump stations and treatment plants. The company also wanted to enact a uniform rate structure for its entire service territory, which includes 36 towns and 587,000 people around the state. But the DPUC found that Aquarion instead should get a revenue decrease citing incomplete construction projects and adjustments for weather and the number of customers the company serves. AP/Newsday_ 10/27/04

June, 2004

Even a 20% water rate rise leaves gap in Saugus, Massachusetts operating costs
The Water Department is awash in debt, and a 20 percent rate increase passed by Saugus Town Meeting won't be enough to cover operating costs in the next fiscal year, Town Manager Andrew Bisignani said. Saugus ratepayers will pay a flat rate of $67.50 for the first 3,000 cubic feet of water used. The town currently charges $53.28 for the first 3,000 cubic feet. Boston Globe_ 6/24/04


Billerica, Massachusetts closes spigot on firm's 50% water discount
Billerica selectmen have decided to terminate the agreement with Cambridge Tool and Manufacturing Co. that dates back to the mid- 1970s, but no longer makes sense for the town, which could save $15,000 to $18,000 by breaking the deal. The signed agreement requires that either party give at least one-year notice before termination. When the original deal was struck, company and town officials disagreed over Cambridge Tool's assertion that deeds to its land permitted the company to draw water from the Concord River without paying the town. The agreement called for the conpany to drop all legal suits against the town regarding water usage in exchange for a 50 percent reduction in its water bill. Lowell, Massachusetts Sun_ 5/20/04

Princeton, Kentucky water board increases rates 40%: Mayor asks entire board to resign
The rate increase is unrealistic, said Mayor Vickie Hughes. "Nobody increases — in municipal government — anything 40 percent.  Princeton, Kentucky Times Leader_ 5/15/04

Florida Public Service Commission studies Chuluota water, sewer rates
Chuluota residents complained they were paying in the hundreds of dollars. Florida Water Services blamed the rates, significantly higher than those in other parts of Central Florida, on improvements it made to the Chuluota system and said it was to compensate for the relatively small number of people in the area. Orlando Sentinel_ 4/27/04 (logon required)

Missouri PUC and Missouri-American Water Co. agree to hold local rates
The company had asked the commission to approve plans to increase its annual water revenue at its St. Louis County and St. Charles districts by about $20 million a year and its sewer revenue by about $1,600 a year. St. Louis Business Journal_ 4/7/04

March, 2004

Los Angeles City Council rebukes Department of Water and Power, orders outside audit of agency before it will approve 18% rate increase
The council's action came after the opposition to the rate increase rippled through the network of about 100 advisory neighborhood councils in Los Angeles. Questions also were raised by the cost of the DWP's public relations efforts, sponsorships of the Los Angeles Dodgers and grants to community groups that run into the tens of millions of dollars a year. Los Angeles Daily News 3/31/04
Fontana, California water rates will rise 23.7 percent, judge says
The administrative law judge's decision will be reviewed by the state Public Utilities Commission April 14. Controversy raged for months over the Fontana Water Company's proposed rate increase, which was strongly opposed by the City of Fontana, the Fontana Unified School District, many local water users, and state consumer advocates. Fontana Herald News 3/26/04

West Virginia water company proposes almost 20% rate increase
The mayors of Charleston and South Charleston and the president of the Kanawha County Commission said they oppose the 19.9 percent rate increase West Virginia-American Water Co. proposed Friday, even though lower-income families would receive a sizable discount. Chris Jarrett, president of the water company, said in a press release that higher rates are necessary to ensure “that our parent company continues to see West Virginia as a viable market for future growth.” Charleston Gazette 3/13/04

California community moves ahead on $23 million water bond
The Turlock City Council agreed Tuesday to move ahead on a $23 million bond that will double fees homeowners currently pay. The bond, which pays for maintenance and upgrades of the city’s water system, would raise the average fee from $14.30 a month to $31.50 at the end of five years. Turlock Journal/ 3/10/04

January, 2004

West Virginia Public Service Commission rejects request from West Virginia-American Water to raise its rates by 15 percent. Cities and counties opposed the increase saying it would create economic hardship.  Charleston Gazette 1/3/04

 

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