Saturday, June 19, 2010

Water bills to increase 500% as Cape Fear Public Utility Authority annexes Porters Neck

Some 700 Porters Neck households will soon be annexed by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. On Wednesday, the CFPUA held two meetings at the Porter Neck Clubhouse so residents could learn more about the expansion project. Residents were anything but receptive to the Authority’s takeover of their water supply, many leaving the meeting irate regarding the coming rate increases.

Porter Neck residents are currently supplied with water by the Porters Neck Company (PNC) at a rate of $1.25 per 1000 gallons. Based on the PNC’s rate schedule, if a household used 6000 their bill would be $7.50. Those 6000 gallons of water from the CFPUA will now cost residents $ 35.21, an increase of nearly 500% over current rates.

Porter Neck residents will suffer the same fate as many other New Hanover County families have before them. One day they are purchasing water from privately owned water utility. (Keep in mind, these private water utilities were not giving the water away, they were selling it at a profit. ) The next day, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority takes over; rates go through the roof, and continue to climb. The 500% increase Porters Neck residents will see is just the beginning of the increases in their water costs.

The Authority’s tiered rate scheme only compounds the rate increase problem. Many residents will find the water that formerly cost them $1.25 per thousand gallons will now cost $ 4.50 per thousand gallons under the CFPUA’s tiered rate scheme.

Homeowners that attended the meeting felt helpless stating there was no one that represented them on the CFPUA board. “This is a textbook case of taxation without representation,” one resident said. He was right on target. While the CFPUA has many of the same powers as a city council or county commission, CFPUA board members are appointed rather than elected, leaving citizens with no recourse if they are not satisfied with the actions or performance of the board.

The bitter taste left in the mouths of Porters Neck residents will be the plight of other families as the CFPUA continues to raise rates and annex customers to expand its domain. We’ll have more on the unrestricted powers of the CFPUA in an upcoming article

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

CPFUA 2 year anniversary much more costly to some families than others

How the CFPUA targets families with rate increases

When the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority took control of our water and sewer utilities in 2008 the board implemented a tiered rate structure. Under the tiered rate structure, families pay a higher price per gallon as more water is used. Families with more members use more water and in turn pay a higher price per gallon. Since its inception larger families have argued they are unfairly discriminated against under the tiered rate structure. Two years of rate increases under CPFUA’s reign have proven them right.

Below is an illustration which shows how rate increases affect families based on size. Keep in mind that while each family below is using the exact same amount of water per person, there is a marked difference in the price increases they’ve seen.

The usage rates are calculated using the exact same amount of water per person. Based on given data in the CFPUA’s Water and Sewer Rates Briefing December 2008 for basic water needs.

Using the City of Wilmington’s former usage rate of $1.87 as a baseline, the typical family with 1 or 2 members have seen the rate they pay rise 19%, to $2.22. A family with 3-4 members have seen the price they can pay jump 80%, from $1.87 to $ 3.36. A family with as few as 5 members have seen the price they can pay skyrocket 141%, from $ 1.87 to $4.50.

Does the CFPUA target families with rate increases? Absolutely it does, and proudly so. Families claiming rate discrimination find no sympathy from the CFPUA leadership.

CEO Matt Jordan readily admits larger families, while using water at the exact same rate per person as smaller families, and who are even conserving water, will still pay a higher price per gallon under the tiered rate scheme. He has stated in the past that under the tiered rate scheme some families must pay more so that others can pay less. Jordan’s cohort, CFPUA Board Chairman Gene Renzaglia, is also an outspoken supporter of the tiered rate scheme.

With board members that are appointed rather than elected, citizens are left with virtually no voice for change. Fortunately for the families of New Hanover County, not all CFPUA board members are drinking the cool aid served up by leadership. There are rumblings among some board members which may lead to changes in the rate structure.

Until then, as water rates continue to spiral upward at staggering pace, discrimination against families in water rates will remain the gold standard for the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hello World!

Welcome to CFPUA Watchdog! Our goal is to educate the public providing news and information on the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority and it's tiered rate scheme not found elsewhere and not filtered by the CFPUA spin machine. This blog is an extension of