Tuesday, April 27, 2010
What if the City of Indianapolis simply transferred the water and sewer utilities to Citizens Energy, along with the assumption of the current debt, and received no payments from Citizens Energy as part of the transaction? That's an important question that councilors addressed to the company's CEO, Cary Lykins, at tonight's Administration and Finance Committee. If I understood Lykins, Indianapolis ratepayers could expect to pay about 30% less in water and sewer utility rates if Citizens is not required to borrow money to produce a net cash payment to the City of Indianapolis. That's because the ratepayers will be required to pay for the additional borrowing by the company through its rates. Mayor Greg Ballard is insisting on the cash payment to fund hundreds of millions of dollars in public infrastructure improvements. If he cared more about holding down rates than pork barrel spending, he would have proposed a transaction that would yield the best savings for Indianapolis ratepayers. Citizens should be thinking about that as their councilors ponder approval of the transaction. Unfortunately, it appears most councilors are focused on getting as many projects approved for their districts as possible as part of the transaction rather than holding down rates. This is just another thinly- veiled attempt by Mayor Ballard to raise taxes. For someone who ran on a platform opposing higher taxes, he sure has an affinity for raising them.