The Public Hearing on raising water rates, that wasn’t. TPU Commission Bryan Flint agreed with people who made public comment about the short notice and the failure to advertise the meeting on the TPU website, not in the water bill that goes out to ratepayers, not in the newsletter, no story in the Tacoma Weekly or the Tacoma News Tribune. The notice was misleading, sent out at 5:27 PM on the Friday before the Super Bowl Game (the best game ever). The meeting occurred just five days on the following Wednesday. The meeting began at 6:30 PM and any one attending fought the wind and the pouring rain. Is there any wonder why there were so many empty seats?
The so-called “Public Hearing” is worth watching, as it will give ratepayers a glimpse of what is to come. Basically, staff reported that conservation by residential users has caused a revenue decline. The solution, shift the cost to the fee ratepayers pay for their service. So, it appears the reward for conserving water is to make the residents pay more in their monthly fixed cost for the delivery of the water.
Anybody ever remember new water pipes being installed on their street?
Just six people testified at the “Public Hearing”. Most of those who spoke were concerned about how poorly the Public Hearing was advertised and complained about only having five days notice.
The TPU commissioners go through this exercise of reviewing water and power rates every three years by law, so this should not be a surprise. Even TPU Commissioner remarked that the public should have been give more notice given the fact that all of the commissioners knew about the Feb. 8 Public Hearing Meeting long ago.
Other speakers voiced concern about Section H in the Tacoma Municipal Code that allows for exceptions for large water users regarding the rate they pay – less than large commercial water users. An example of this is Niagara Bottling LLC that enjoys a rate 8% less than other large water users. Side deals like this should not occur with a publicly owned utility.
TPU Board meetings are held the second and fourth Wednesday
of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the
Tacoma Public Utilities Auditorium, 3628 S. 35th St., Tacoma.