A Call For Legislative Action And Public Comment

Another handout by a group unhappy with the BS in the City of Racine


A Call For Legislative Action And Public Comment
It is time for the Wisconsin State Legislature to end the abuse of Racine’s water utility revenues by introducing Legislation that will end the practice of allowing local Politicians to raise water rates, siphon off water utility revenues, or issue water utility revenue bonds for local government operations or other development activities that are unrelated to the operations of the water utility. Ensuring safe, clean and affordable drinking water for all is the only long term sustainable option that will not jeopardize, for Generations to come, the future of Racine’s supply of safe, clean and affordable water.
The City of Racine, in their Financing Options for Tax Incremental District 17, on page 22 states:
Utility Revenue Bonds: The City can issue revenue bonds to be repaid from revenues of the sewer and/or water systems, including revenues paid by the City that represent service of the system to the City. There is neither a statutory nor constitutional limitation on the amount of revenue bonds that can be issued, however, water rates are controlled by the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and the City must demonstrate to bond underwriters its ability to repay revenue debt with the assigned rates. To the extent the City utilizes utility revenues other than tax increments to repay a portion of the bonds; the City must reduce the total eligible Project Costs in an equal amount.
The absence of statutory or constitutional limitations on the amount of water and sewer utility revenue bonds that can be issued is an oversight by past Legislatures and an open invitation to abuses by local governing authorities. This looming crisis demands immediate attention from Wisconsin State Legislators who need to introduce Legislation that will place reasonable limitations on the issuance of utility revenue bonds along with the purposes for which they can be issued. Utilities operations are too vital to the health and well-being of the Communities that depend upon them to allow politicians to encumber them with debt for purposes unrelated to the operation of the utility.
In Wisconsin there are an increasing number of people who are experiencing fuel poverty due to rising costs, which is why the Wisconsin State Legislature must regulate utility revenue bonds and not allow them to be used for purposes other than utility operations. The City of Racine, in its 2014 Budget, page 242, lists the water utility operating expenses at $17,342,000 with revenues of $21,871,851. That is a profit of $4,529,851. The PSC must reject The City of Racine’s current request to raise water rates and while the State Legislature must end the practice of issuing utility revenue bonds for unrelated purposes.

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