Elliott StonecipherNewsWater Scandal

Pt. 2: NO SURPRISE … CITY WATER-SEWER DEBACLE WORSENS

By:
  • Elliott Stonecipher
Pictured:
  • Mayor Adrian Perkins

Friday, June 21, 2019 … 12:00 Noon

To recap, here are key points from Part 1 of this article, posted last Sunday:

… total funds available for expenditure by the Shreveport Department of Water and Sewerage (DOWAS) more than doubled in the past six years, 2013 through 2018, from just over $64,000,000 to just over $139,000,000 … up 115.5%;

… this traces to steady increases in our water and sewer rates which began in 2013, to extend through 2022, during which water rates will rise 25% and sewer rates will more than double, rising 116%;

… the Harper Law Firm has three related lawsuits underway to prove residential and business water and sewer customers have been systematically overcharged for years, with one of those suits already decided against DOWAS by Caddo District Judge Michael Pitman;

… like decisions by Judge Pitman in the remaining two cases might result in a total of $60 million or more paid back to DOWAS customers, not including attorney fees; and

… official cover-up of key facts concerning DOWAS overcharging continue, including the withholding of external audits and rate studies publicly identified last year (SEE link #2 below, my September 2018 subject article.)

It is important when considering these subjects to remember this fact, as copied directly from the Department’s budget documents:

“The Water and Sewerage Department operates the System as a self-supporting enterprise fund, whereby the majority of operations and capital expenditures are funded with revenues generated from customer user fees. The City General Fund tax dollars are not used to fund the operating budget of the System.”

Broadly at issue are the requirements of a Consent Decree the City entered into with the U. S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March 2014. Related negotiations began in 2009.

As we learned in a presentation made to the City Council by City Engineer Patrick Furlong in March, the expected $350 million in costs for necessary repairs over the twelve-year life of the agreement has now tripled to $1.1 billion.

In March, City Councilman John Nickelson summed-up the skyrocketing costs to KSLA-TV’s Jeff Ferrell this way: “We’ve already spent $425 million and only completed about 40 percent of the work.”

Underlying Consent Decree-mandated costs is the City’s on-going issuance of bonds (the bonanza-on-steroids for a chosen few attorneys) … thus far, $120 million in 2015; $108 million in 2016; $91 million in 2017; $120 million in 2018; and $100 million this year.

In April, the engineering duo Burns and McDonnell-BonTon was unanimously selected by the City’s (infamous) Architect & Engineering Committee to oversee the work.

Putting the point very mildly, allegations of corruption within various aspects of this billion-dollar project are pervasive. I would be stunned if the core allegations of which I am aware are false.

Attorneys handling this litigation for Mayor Perkins, the City Council, etc. – paid by taxpayers – are working overtime to keep secrets secret, and to defeat any litigation which exposes – much less sets straight – DOWAS’ systematic overbilling.

The questions now flashing red include this one: just how much overcharging has DOWAS done over these years, and what happens if the total amount of such bungling – $60 million or more? – is not readily returned to its customers?

* * * * * * * *

I recommend that everyone who cares take the time to read / watch / review the following:

1. this notable report in March by KSLA-TV’s Jeff Ferrell:
https://www.ksla.com/…/sticker-shock-shreveports-consent-d…/

2. my article last September, re: Mayor Tyler:
http://realshreveport.com/did-mayor-tyler-bold-faced-lie-t…/

3. City of Shreveport website information about these many subjects, as listed down the left-hand side of the page:
https://www.shreveportla.gov/1266/Consent-Decree

© 2019 Elliott Stonecipher … ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

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Elliott Stonecipher

Elliott is a freelance contributor to RealShreveport.com and any other locally interested publications. Importantly, Elliott has several first-hand experiences in almost every aspect of the best and worst in local politics of Louisiana, particularly Northwest Louisiana. For several years and at great personal risk, Elliott has worked as a watchdog in local politics by writing and exposing numerous subjects that every other media outlet has refused to touch.

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