Saturday, August 15, 2020

Garland, Richardson and Plano applaud PUC decision to review water rates

Photo by Terry Vlisidis on Unsplash

The Cities of Garland, Mesquite, Richardson, and Plano applaud the Public Utility Commission (PUC) for its decision to conduct a review of water rates charged by the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD). They are hopeful this next step in the process will bring the cities closer to establishing a new rate methodology that is fair and equitable to all members, encourages conservation and better serves the Region’s long-term interests.

The request was made after working for more than a decade to get relief for their ratepayers.
  • In June of 2015, the four cities asked the PUC for relief for a myriad of reasons. They believe residents and businesses are paying too much for water under an outdated rate methodology that encourages water usage and does not provide incentives for water conservation. To date, the four cities’ ratepayers have paid nearly $275 million cumulatively for unused water since their cities’ respective peak usage years.
  • Forcing Member Cities to pay continually increasing rates for a fixed quantity regardless of actual consumption is not fair and is inconsistent with conservation initiatives.
  • Member Cities lack the bargaining power to: negotiate new rates; decide which capital improvement projects the District will implement and whether debt will be issued to fund them; weigh in on the growing budget and increasing indebtedness; change District policies such as the rebate; and set Customer Cities’ rates.
  • The only way to protect our residents and businesses is to seek rate relief with the PUC.
  • Unlike most contracts between water districts and cities, the contract with the NTMWD is in perpetuity. It never ends. Furthermore, the contract involves 13 Member Cities, which must approve any changes unanimously. Most other water-supplying entities in Texas are in contracts with single cities.
Although they voiced their support for the long-term initiatives of the District, they do not believe their residents should continue to subsidize the system while waiting for a change in the rate methodology. The PUC decision appropriately acknowledges that the time for change is now.

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