Tag: wastewater (Page 2 of 2)

Fiscal Sustainability Plans – A Rose by Any Other Name

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet; – From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, 1600

This often-quoted phrase by Shakespeare’s Juliet seeks to nullify the fact that Romeo has the surname of her family’s enemy. Since that time people have used the phrase to convey that the nature of the thing is more important than what the thing is called. But, today’s world is more complicated than Shakespeare’s, perhaps not when it comes to love, but certainly with respect to getting people’s attention. Our in-boxes and lives are so cluttered that something needs to stand out in order to win our attention. The thing needs to be new, and/or solve our problems, and the name needs to portray this, otherwise we bypass it. Many names have evolved for the smart management of water infrastructure. Asset Management and Effective Utility Management are now common terms. The “fiscal sustainability plans” that EPA is requiring with the Clean Water State Revolving Fund Amendments as part of the Water Resources Reform & Development Act (WRRDA) also incorporate elements of this smart management.

Continue reading

Taxing Toilet Paper —Wastewater Finance Savior or Regressive Burden?

Half_a_white_toilet_paper_rollMany government-owned wastewater systems in the United States are enterprise funds.  That is, they are business-like units within the overall government that should be self-sustaining, taking their revenue from the rates and fees charged to wastewater customers rather than from taxes.  Ideally, wastewater utilities base their rates and fees on the full cost of providing wastewater service, not just on operating expenses and routine maintenance costs.  Full cost rates and fees would also include taxes and accounting costs, contingencies for emergencies, and, perhaps most importantly, costs related to capital infrastructure—principal and interest on long-term debt and reserves for capital improvement. Continue reading

Fund Transfer Workarounds

Stacey Isaac Berahzer is a Senior Project Director for the Environmental Finance Center at the University of North Carolina, and works from a satellite office in Georgia.

Water rate increases can get even more controversial when there is the perception that the related increase in revenue is going to fund government activities other than water service.

With the economic downturn, local governments are having a harder time balancing their budgets and the temptation to draw from utility funds becomes harder to resist. Stories are popping up in the press, such as objections over a 59% (utility) rate increase over a 13-year period, in order to hold millage rates steady in one local government. Several factors play into whether this is an unusually high rate of increase. Inflation is one important factor. In the last ten years, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation rose by more than 25%. The power of compounding involved with annual rate increases over the 13 years is also an important consideration. But, if we compared this increase to, say about 2,000 utilities from six states across the country, would the 59% be an outlier?  Continue reading

Newer posts »