Citizen initiative filed on Valentine’s Day to stop sweetheart water deals by deleting these words from the Tacoma Municipal Code:
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.
Save Tacoma Water filed a citizen initiative to protect our water on Valentine’s Day.
Volunteers have been working hard, for months, doing research and perfecting an initiative for filing that seeks to end special secret sweetheart water deals with for-profit corporations.
Valentine’s Day was chosen to help highlight the sweetheart contract deals large water users enter into due to a provision in the Tacoma Municipal Code. Special contract agreements go through a public process, however, the public is not generally aware of these special contracts. These agreements are performed one-on-one between Tacoma Public Utility Superintendent and for-profit corporations that want to use more than one million gallons of fresh water a day.
An example of a special contract is one that Niagara Bottling LLC, a for-profit company that sells bottled water, currently enjoys.
Just one person, Kit Burns, testified during the public comment process in June of 2013 that provided Niagara Bottling a 5-year agreement that gives them a rate of 8% less than other large water users.
This proposed citizen initiative is timed to go along with the water rate setting process that occurs every two years as required by the Tacoma Municipal Code. Right now, TPU is proposing rate increases for residents, but few details have been made available to the public up to this point. April Fool’s Day is the day chosen by TPU for the new rates to be approved.
Last week, Save Tacoma Water requested publicly, at the poorly handled Public Hearing held by the TPU Board, to delete 46 words in the Tacoma Municipal Code 12.400.100 (H), which would get rid of these secret sweetheart water deals like some large water users benefit from.
TMC 12.400.100 (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.”
“This practice of leaving the ratepayers out of the rate setting process needs to end,” Donna Walters, states.
“Section H amplifies the length to which TPU will work with corporations, cutting them special deals, while residential users are facing water rate increases this year. This needs to end now,” states Sherry Bockwinkel.