Friday, April 18, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Council approves bill to create independent water-rate setting board

So, there may soon be an independent board that will fix and regulate water rates and sewer services.

Council approves bill to create independent water-rate setting board

So, there may soon be an independent board that will fix and regulate water rates and sewer services.

City Council approved today legislation sponsored by Council president Darrell Clarke that would create the independent board. Under Clarke’s proposal voters will be asked in November to approve an amendment to the Home Rule Charter to establish the rate-making body.

The bill passed 16-1, with Republican Councilman Denny O’Brien voting against it. It’s unclear whether Mayor Nutter will sign the bill into law as the Administration expressed concern about the measure during a recent hearing.

In February the Water Department announced plans to seek a 28.5 percent rate increase, that if approved would begin in October and spread over the course of three years. The average customer would see an $196 increase a year over today’s rate. The Water Department has said the increase is necessary to deal with a projected $316 million budget shortfall over the next four fiscal years.

Currently, a rate request must go through a public-hearing process and the Council president, the Mayor and the City Controller would select a hearing officer and a public advocate. The final decision to approve a rate is made by the Water Commissioner.

“I saw no level of transparency that I was comfortable with,” Clarke said. He has said that Philly is the only large city that does not allow elected officials or boards selected by elected officials approve the rates.

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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Sean Collins Walsh is from Bucks County and went to Northwestern University. He joined the Daily News copy desk in 2012 and now covers the Nutter administration. Before that, he interned at papers including The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News and The Seattle Times. E-mail tips to walshSE@phillynews.com
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