On Aug 11th and Aug 13th PPPB posted two articles on Plano's water. Plano Pocketing Money From Water. (https://planospoliticalpitbull.weebly.com/posts-about-council/plano-pocketing-money-from-water)
and More Water Profits Found. (https://planospoliticalpitbull.weebly.com/posts-about-council/more-water-profits-found)
The city has responded to these findings with the following letter.
"Thank you for your questions regarding all the transfers made from the Water & Sewer Fund. I wanted to pass on the response from Willdan & Associates our Rate Model Consultants regarding the transfer to the General Fund and the philosophy behind it. Willdan completed our Rate Model last November 2017.
“It is unfortunate but not that uncommon that ratepayers sometimes think that municipally-owned water and wastewater utilities such as Plano are making a “profit”. Nothing could be further from the truth. The City of Plano only recovers from its ratepayers those revenues required to fund its water and wastewater operating and capital costs. As is common practice for thousands of utilities across the USA, this cost includes a transfer to the General Fund to reimburse other city departments (administration, public works, engineering, police/fire, etc.) for the very significant cost each department incurs in providing services to support the utility operation. If such a transfer were not made, then the General Fund would essentially be subsidizing the water and sewer fund through the provision of costs and services without reimbursement. The common amount of General Fund transfer for many cities is 10-15% of gross utility revenues, which is precisely where Plano’s General Fund transfer is positioned. While not all cities make a general fund transfer, financial and utility professionals across the USA consider these transfers to be prudent financial management and best practices.
Plano uses the revenues it recovers from its water and wastewater fund to pay operating expenses and make the capital expenditures necessary to ensure that the system operates at an acceptable level of service. Projecting revenues can be inexact, as revenues are dependent on unpredictable weather patterns (for example, people purchase more water during hot dry months than cool wet months). If in any given year Plano recovers more revenues than all its costs, including its reimbursement of the General Fund, then this additional revenue is simply used for utility capital expenditures. There are no profits, no stock dividends, and no use of these funds for any purpose other than the provision of water and wastewater service.”
In addition, the transfer from the Water & Sewer Fund to Capital Maintenance Fund is for two primary purposes:
1. Paying for Pump Station Rehabilitation (replacement of pumps and motors) and Water Design Standard Updates.
2. Paying for facility projects that either tie directly to the utility system (such as roof replacements at lift stations or emergency generator replacements at pump stations) or where utility system personnel have a substantial presence (Parkway Service Center, Municipal Center etc.).
Our transfer to the Technology Services Fund is to pay for the portion of the staff, operations, and equipment for Technology that is specifically dedicated to Water & Sewer items.
Let me know if you have additional questions.
Thanks, Karen [Budget Dircetor] "
While this letter was meant to answer questions, it only leaves me with more. Why do we need Consultants Willdan & Associates? How much do we have to pay for them? If transfers to the General Fund only covers operations coasts, why are these costs not listed under water and sewer operations? What does the department of administration, public works, engineering, police/fire, and others do for water and sewer that they need reimbursement? What are all the capital expenditures that Plano is spending this money on? Is this all for water and sewer projects? If the money from water and sewer is put into other funds for things related to water, how does the city earmark the money to make sure it only gets spent on water? The simplest way to make sure that water money is only spent on things related to water is for the city to specifically list what every penny of water money is spent on, and why, in the budget. But, of course, that would be too easy and transparent for the government to do.
This is Plano's Political Pit Bull Signing Off.