SAWS News: Petition Challenging SAWS Water and Sewer Rates Fails
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Petition Challenging SAWS Water and Sewer Rates Fails

The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) today submitted a report to the Texas Public Utility Commission (PUC) demonstrating that an insufficient number of signatures were submitted to challenge SAWS water and sewer rates for customers outside the city limits.

Following an outreach that spanned several months and included over 75 briefings; rates for SAWS customers were approved in November, 2015 by the San Antonio City Council and became effective in January, 2016.

Under the rates challenge – which only affects rates for SAWS customers living outside the city limits – 7,603 signatures were needed, but less than 6,400 signatures were submitted, disqualifying the petition even prior to signature validation.

“With more than 76,000 water and sewer customers residing outside of the city limits, the initial submittal already fell considerably short of the 10 percent required by statute,” said SAWS President/CEO Robert R. Puente. “I am confident that any review of our rates would conclude that SAWS rates are fair and reasonable. This attempt to challenge our rates has proven to be an expensive maneuver by the fire union to distract attention from their issues with city management.”

Led by Mary Bailey, SAWS Vice President of Business Planning & Controller and a certified public accountant with more than 30 years’ experience, each signature was reviewed, plotted on maps and re-reviewed for accuracy. Over 2,600 signatures were disqualified, either because the address did not match a SAWS customer located outside the city limits, there were multiple signatures for the same address, or because the signature did not match the name of a SAWS customer.

SAWS staff spent more than 500 hours reviewing the signatures submitted under the rates challenge.

“SAWS staff worked diligently to review each submitted signature. We identified 6,326 signatures versus the 6,028 the union claimed in their press announcement the day the petition was delivered to SAWS”, said Bailey. “We made every effort to validate the signatures, but in the end, only 3,680 could be validated– well short of the 7,603 needed.”

To ensure that the work performed by Bailey’s team could withstand any scrutiny, SAWS had its internal audit staff further test and validate the results.

“After this extended process,” Bailey noted, “we are confident our review was thorough and accurate and welcome the opportunity to go through the process with the Texas Public Utility Commission.”

SAWS has submitted its report and will await a response from the PUC and Greg Brockhouse. Those responses are due June 17.

Signed filing of Statement of Review of Petition Signatures

 

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