To the Editor:
The more money our city receives in up front payment for leasing our water and sewer system, the more our residents and businesses will pay for water and sewer service. Our water and sewer facilities are assets which are attractive investments because they are self supporting and are in good condition.
Would any corporation pay $50 million or more for an asset without the expectation of profit? That profit is above repayment plus interest on the up front money. I would rather this money stay in O’Fallon to fund our quality of life and our water and sewer system.
Do we know who will control the management of our water and sewer facilities over a forty year lease? A publicly owned corporation is owned by stockholders and controlled by high paid executives and a board of directors. The executives and the board are responsible for maximizing profit for the stockholders. That might include selling the entire corporation to the highest bidder.
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Corporations are bought and sold with regularity on Wall Street. For example, in January of 2003, RWE, a German utility company, purchased American Water, one of the bidders for the lease of our water and sewer system.
In January of 2005, RWE announced plans to sell American Water. As another example, a 10-K filing produced by American Water stated “In January 2012, we completed the sale of all of our stock in our water and wastewater operating companies located in Arizona and New Mexico. On May 1, 2012, we completed the sale of eight regulated water systems and one wastewater system in Ohio.” Even operating units such as Illinois-American Water are bought and sold. These activities involve profit for the shareholders of a corporation, with little or no regard for the customers they serve.
I want the stability of knowing who will control our water and sewer service over the next forty years and beyond. My choice is the city of O’Fallon. Do you believe a corporation will pay $50 million or more up front for a lease and not exert control over our water and sewer systems? We have good water and sewer systems, affordable rates and high quality service.
Why consider risking this to have more money to spend on future focused projects which are normally funded by the city’s traditional sources of income? I believe the city council will listen if we “Vote No Twice.” For information about water and sewer privatization, please refer to: foodandwaterwatch.org.