Editorial: Consumers paid, then paid again

Source: Lexington Herald Leader, January 27, 2019

Five years ago, the private Kentucky American Water quit including local government fees on water bills then used the resulting revenue loss to justify charging Lexington households and businesses more for water. It still galls that the public had to pay twice — once because it cost $700,000 a year more to outsource sewer and other billing to the Cincinnati Water Works, and again when the water company used its annual loss of $1.59 million from canceling the city contract to argue for a rate increase, an argument accepted by the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The city recently brought the billing home, in hopes of eventually saving $400,000 a year. The transition to in-house billing also created six customer service jobs in Lexington. It appears to be a smart move by Mayor Jim Gray’s administration. The city has paid the increased billing costs out of fees paid by consumers. That’s millions of dollars that could have gone into upgrading sanitary sewers, controlling flooding and supporting recycling if Kentucky American had not ended the billing agreement. Most cities never face such a problem because most water utilities are owned by the public. …