Sunday, February 1, 2015

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
William Bender, a Drexel graduate who landed at the Daily News in 2007, has covered everything from South Philly mobsters to doomsday hucksters. He occasionally writes about local food trucks and always eats everything on his plate, whether it be a bloody rib eye or a corrupt politician. E-mail tips to benderw@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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David Gambacorta, has been a reporter with the Daily News since 2005, covering crime, police corruption and all of the other bizarre things that happen in Philadelphia. Now he’s covering the 2015 mayor’s race, because he enjoys a good circus just as much as the next guy. He’s always looking to get a cup of coffee. Send news tips and other musings on life to gambacd@phillynews.com
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