Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Misinformation from CFPUA Leadership Taints Upcoming Rate Hearings

In the February 5th Star News Article ”Utility urged to change rate structure” CFPUA treasurer Burrows Smith is quoted with saying “that Cape Fear Public Utility's rate structure is common practice for most utilities.” It's an apparent attempt to convince the public the CFPUA's tiered rate structure was the norm for water utilities in the state. Problem is, that’s not true at all.

Above is the slide presented to the CFPUA board.
More disturbing is that just before Smith’s interview with the Star News he had seen a presentation based on the August 2010 "Water and Wastewater Rates and Rate Structures in North Carolina" study written by the North Carolina League of Municipalities and the UNC Environmental. That study showed only 26% of utilities in North Carolina have the same rate as the CFPUA, not even close to being “the common practice for most utilities” that he claimed.

In a previous email Renzaglia stated “the State passed legislation that effectively cuts off funding to those utilities/muncipalities that did not have a tiered rate structure.” A review of North Carolina state law shows that’s not true either.

Smith and Renzaglia are the only two original board members left and defend the tiered rate structure they help put in place every turn. However, with five new board members in the past year, there is hope for meaningful change in the rate structure for families in New Hanover County.

Can these board members just say whatever they want regardless? Yes. So where is the accountability? Unfortunately, there is none. It seems to be a common strategy that’s being implemented. That is, if you say something enough times, people will believe it to be true, whether it is or not. A great way to manipulate public opinion and convince the newest CFPUA board members to blindly fall in line and support the status quo.

The bottom line is the CFPUA’s tiered rate structure punishes families for essential water needs and that’s wrong. That should be unacceptable to all board members. The current rate structure should be changed radically, if not done away with all together. For all the things the CFPUA is doing right, the rate structure is not one of them. It is government at it’s worst.

Monday, February 7, 2011

CFPUA Board Member Claims County Impact Fees Unfair

Text of an email sent to CFPUA Treasurer Burrows Smith on 2.7.11....


I read the February 4th Star News article “Builders Challenge New Hanover County on Impact Fees” and your complaints about the impact fees your development company was being forced to pay for schools. You didn’t like being charged premium when your retirement development was going to have little impact on the school system.

Likewise, under the CFPUA’s current tiered rate structure New Hanover County Families are punished with higher prices for essential water needs when they are no more a burden on the system per person than smaller families.

As a CFPUA Board Member I would hope you would make the same argument for the families of New Hanover County that you make on behalf of your personal business. You’re right, overbearing government fees are not fair. The CFPUA tiered water rate structure is simply bad policy and it’s time for change.

After reading that article, it seems you understand my point of view now and I look forward to seeing you lead the charge for change.

Best regards,

Chad O’Shields

Sunday, February 6, 2011

CFPUA Calls for Public Hearing Before Next Round of Rate Increases

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority has scheduled a public hearing before the next round of rate increases. The hearing will be March 9th at 6:00 pm in the Commissioners Chambers in the Historic Courthouse downtown. The hearing will allow the public to address concerns directly to the CFPUA board  regarding pending rate hikes.

One of the topics of discussion will be the results of a nearly $50,000 rate study. Many New Hanover County families hope discussions will result in meaningful change to the current rate structure. Under the current rate structure some families have seen the price they pay for essential water needs increase over 140% per thousand gallons.

For over two years families have complained to the eleven member CFPUA board they were being unfairly punished with higher rates. According to the American Water Works Association standards, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s tiered water rates are unfairly punitive to larger families.

A rates workshop is also scheduled for February 23. It will be at 6:00 pm Commissioners Chambers in the Historic Courthouse downtown.