Public Hearing Wednesday Feb. 8

Friday, Feb. 3, 2017

Tacoma Public Utilities sent out an email regarding a year long process developing new water rates. Below is how the email read when it arrived to those lucky enough to be on the list.

Subject: Tacoma Public Utility Board Meeting Notifications
Date: February 3, 2017 5:27:14 PM PST

Note the time and the day – someone was working late.

The Public Meetings Act requires a minimum of five days notice for meetings. Tacoma Water ratepayers should be asking TPU why such late notice was sent out about something they have been working on for the past year?

Save Tacoma Water is urging ratepayers to show up and voice their opinion about the planned increases.

STW supports higher rates for large water users as water is a precious public resource and higher rates encourages conservation.

STW supports higher rates for super huge water users (industry giants using more than one million gallons of fresh water a day).

TPU already has one super huge water user

Additionally, STW has concerns about Tacoma Municipal Code 12.10.400 (H).

The 46 words in Section H need to be deleted.

Section H reads: “H. Special Contracts. The Superintendent, with the approval of the Board, shall have the right to enter into contracts for periods up to 20 years where service conditions are extraordinary; provided, that such contracts shall contain applicable rates as adopted by the Board and the City Council.”

It was under this provision that TPU negotiated a special contract with Niagara. Deleting this section in its entirety removes the authority of TPU/City to give special sweetheart deals to companies like Niagara, a for profit business utilizing our public resource.

TPU’s web site does not provide the actual language the TPU commissioners will be considering. All the public has just five days before the hearing regarding rates is this:

“Residential Rates Proposals

For us to support our long-term investments and capital-intensive operation and continue delivering quality water and power, we need to increase our rates as follows. This is a flat rate for all residential customers, and will apply to both 2017 and 2018.

Water:

  • $1.49 per month (inside the City of Tacoma)
  • $1.79 per month (outside the City of Tacoma)”
The above increase in unclear, but that is all that is currently available. Further down the page readers will find this:
  • Commercial: 4.3%
  • Irrigation: 4.9%
  • Large volume commercial: 6.9%
  • Private fire protection: 1.4%
  • Pulp mill: 4.0%
  • System average: 4.0%

TPU clearly does not want an informed public to make comment, nor do they want to provide the public adequate notice. Providing just 5 days notice with only minutes to spare to be within the Public Meetings Act should give all ratepayers pause for concern.