Readers of the Journal Gazette have learned that City Utilities recently gave a monthly rebate of $ 50 to customers in the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District. Unfortunately, the story as reported (“OK District Sewer Assets Go to Town,” August 26) was devoid of context and overstated the discount.
On August 25, the District Council voted to give all assets and territory to City Utilities in exchange for allowing customers in the district to become City Utilities customers at the out-of-city tariff.
This represents a significant rate reduction. It also means City Utilities will take control of all Allen County service rights that are not currently claimed by a local utility. Essentially, Allen County is ceding its water and sewage infrastructure to Fort Wayne on a permanent and complete basis, including control of future rural development.
This decision was not made in a vacuum, and the district’s inability to function independently did not develop overnight. It is the result of many years of discord, mismanagement, and lack of oversight of the district by Allen County Commissioners, former District Executive Directors, city utility officials, and the City Council. district administration.
This is not an unfounded allegation. Fans of the local news will recall several stories over the past few years regarding lawsuits, boisterous meetings, conflicts of interest and internal favors in the neighborhood.
After speaking with dozens of parties involved and reviewing minutes and documents from the district’s history, I can attest that the district endured a comedic level of drama, chaos and intrigue for a small public service. rural.
In light of City Utilities’ claims that the neighborhood is not affordable for customers, I would ask the following question: How was such a large debt incurred? Who supported the “distant” projects noted in history, and who benefited from them? City Utilities appoints seats on the board of directors, is a contract supplier of many operations and handles most of the waste. If the neighborhood needs to be refloated, what role did City Utilities play in its sinking?
The vote to return the constituency was not unanimous and was intensely debated. The vote was 4-2 in favor, with two of the “yeas” of those appointed by City Utilities, one from a person appointed by the Allen County Department of Health and one from a person appointed by the commissioners. The two “no’s” came from another person appointed by a commissioner (myself) and a person appointed by Allen County Council. This unusual distribution of votes indicates that there are more sides to this story than what has been presented.
Finally, the monthly reduction of $ 50 noted in the title of the article is not correct. For starters, about $ 12 of the reduction was already provided by the Commissioners’ $ 5 million contribution this spring.
In fact, many customers in the district will see a monthly drop of about $ 38 in 2022; some customers will see drops of $ 15 to $ 30; and customers in Hoagland (the largest and oldest district community) will see an increase of $ 12. The 2022 average reduction per customer is around $ 30. This is a huge reduction that can be presented as such without false inflation.
To call this City Utilities offer a Trojan horse would not be fair; there will be many benefits for district customers. In some ways, the City Utilities offer was better than what some of us expected to receive. City Utilities officials and others sincerely believe that centralizing water and sewerage is the best solution for the long-term development of the entire county.
But this remains a negotiated acquisition. In addition, City Utilities traded from the strongest position due to long-term instability in the neighborhood, some of which was caused by City Utilities’ own influence.
District customers and other county residents are paying for a reduced rate in the form of giving City Utilities ongoing control over our own rural communities and future land use.
This is an operation. It is not a gift.
Tim Roy, a resident of Hoagland, is a member of the Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District.