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TACOMA: Overhead real reason for water rate hike

Letter by Dan McDdonald, Tacoma on Sep. 10, 2010 at 4:43 pm with 23 Comments »
September 10, 2010 4:43 pm

According to The News Tribune (9-10): “Tacoma Water customers can expect rate hikes of at least 6 percent next year and
possibly more than 10 percent under a budget proposal presented to the Tacoma Public Utility Board this week. ”

As a Tacoma utilities customer, the dollar amount that would be added to my water bill under the proposed increase would be less than $2. That doesn’t bother me. What irritates me is that my combined water/electricity bill always amounts to three or four times the amount of my actual usage.

Delivery costs always equal my actual usage. Therefore, right off the bat, I am being double-billed. There is a
large “customer charge” which is never explained. Then, when I turn my billing statement over and read the reverse, I see at least a solid column inch of state and local taxes.

My utility bill consists primarily of taxes and overhead. This is the issue which should be addressed by the
Tacoma Public Utility Board – not a proposed rate hike which is probably not needed.

Leave a comment Comments → 23
  1. “Delivery costs always equal my actual usage. Therefore, right off the bat, I am being double-billed. ”

    Don, the delivery charge was separated years ago in the spirit of deregulation.

    In theory, you have to right to buy your electricity from another provider, but you would still need to use Tacoma Power’s wires. Thus they split the old charge into electricity and delivery charges.

    The problem, a good problem I think, is that Tacoma Power sells electricity so cheap that no one else has bothered to sell electricity in our area.

    Even with the both charges, your electricity is among the cheapest in the USA. Be thankful you could be paying the rate that Puget Sound Energy charges.

  2. tree_guy says:

    The rates could be lowered. Employee pay is too high.

  3. What should the rate of pay be, tree_guy?

    How much should it be lowered?

  4. tree_guy says:

    Polago, thanks for asking. In today’s economy I would cap salaries as follows:

    HS Degree jobs $30K
    Trade school degrees $40K
    4 year college $50K
    Masters $60K
    Phd. $70K

    Pretty sure there would be plenty of qualified help available.

  5. WarmNfuzziOne says:

    But they want to gouge you! They do it because they can and because they’ve a twisted lack of morality and value…otherwise they’d be focused on providing services.

  6. Fedupintacoma says:

    Tacoma Water would not need a rate increase if they weren’t so busy hiring more unnecessary staff. When the city has a financial division full of capable employees, why does Tacoma Water feel the need to hire their own? Doesn’t Tacoma Water have enough employees people to keep track of their assets? Apparently not since they are hiring a number of new, expensive employees to do just that. As for the new filtration plant, what possible explanation is there for hiring an expensive outside project manager to run the project? And let’s not forget the ever-growing management structure. Promotions given to favored employees during the recent salary study and mysterious reorganizations that build empires and attempt to justify the raises received boggle the mind. Wake up, Tacoma Water. You are horribly mismanaged and wasting the ratepayers’ money.

  7. Fedupintacoma, provide facts.

  8. Polago, thanks for asking. In today’s economy I would cap salaries as follows:

    HS Degree jobs $30K
    Trade school degrees $40K
    4 year college $50K
    Masters $60K
    Phd. $70K

    Pretty sure there would be plenty of qualified help available.

    Where is the CEO pay?

  9. Tree_guy is the CEO pay limited by their degree earned in college. If so, I’m starting to like you pay scale.

  10. Wow Alex Rodriguez, a high school graduate, would earn 30K a year. This pay scale is looking better and better.

  11. tree_guy says:

    As part of the overhead structure I would limit pay for all utility personel as outlined above. Why pay more?

  12. ratujack says:

    This is not responsible. We are in tough times. Drop salaries. Curb the unions. What about the council in the small city in California that voted and payed their City Manager $ 873,000 annual salary. The Tacoma Utility commission/board should all be fired. Irresponsible Drop water rates not increase em!!!!!!!!!!!! Pigs at a feeding box. Plago I guess you as a government employee………wrong?

  13. “As part of the overhead structure I would limit pay for all utility personel as outlined above. Why pay more?”

    The drawback is that this would cause deflation. Too much deflation and the USA collapses.

    Although it would be nice to see Alex make 30k a year, and W. James McNerney, Jr. make 60k a year.

  14. “Plago I guess you as a government employee………wrong? ”

    Or maybe Plago uses his or her brain.

  15. “As part of the overhead structure I would limit pay for all utility personel as outlined above. Why pay more?”

    Why stop at utility personnel? If it’s good for utility workers, it’s good for all Americans.

  16. Sumner401 says:

    Lions and tigers and unions….oh my.

  17. ratujack says:

    Unemploymemt is at a dangerous low level. Only gov employees, fed etc are being employed. Question: ………..Why is there a Tea Party and why are people marching?

  18. “Unemploymemt is at a dangerous low level.” What????

    “Only gov employees, fed etc are being employed.” What????

  19. tree_guy says:

    “Although it would be nice to see Alex make 30k a year” fatuous

    Why does anyone care what Alex Rodriguez makes? He works in the private sector. If you don’t want to participate in paying him just don’t attend the game. If anyone at the water department can play ball as well as Alex I would encourage them to try out. Maybe they could earn as much as Alex.

  20. Fedupintacoma says:

    Fatuous, perhaps this newspaper could provide a follow up story highlighting the pay structure and changes that occurred after the recent salary study. They could request hiring and lay off records for the past year. They could question utility leaders on staffing plans. Those details would corroborate my comments.

    If Tacoma Water hasn’t hired appropriate employees in the past to staff current projects, someone needs to be questioning the hiring practices. That utility has stated it will decrease staffing by 30 positions. What positions? How were those positions identified? What about the need to hire a fairly significant number of employees to staff activities that the utility should already be doing?

  21. Sumner401 says:

    Sounds like fedup has been turned down a few times for a job with the city.

  22. Fedupintacoma says:

    Just a rate payer with knowledge of what’s going on at the utility with absolutely no interest in working there.

  23. Sumner401 says:

    I wonder if the people that lost loved ones in the gas fire would feel better knowing that ‘overhead’ shouldn’t be paid to save a couple of bucks?

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