Trending
MOST READ
Best Brunch

Best Brunch

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Italian: SoBro Pizza Co.

Italian: SoBro Pizza Co.

Flavor 2014: If you build it, they will come. If you build it underneath their apartments, they’ll stop by for gelato, Napolitano pizzas and an excellent wine... 7/29/2014
Dessert & Bakery: La Panaderia

Dessert & Bakery: La Panaderia

Flavor 2014: Los panaderos are in San Antonio. Brothers David and Jose Cacéres have opened the first of what could be many locations of La Panaderia, a concept the... 7/29/2014
Best Happy Hour

Best Happy Hour

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Our Picks for the 31st Annual Jazz’SAlive

Our Picks for the 31st Annual Jazz’SAlive

Music: Eddie Palmieri: 9:30pm Saturday. Jazz’SAlive has traditionally made sure to clear at least one headlining space for Latin jazz... By J.D. Swerzenski 9/17/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

News

SAWS Impact Fee Debated At Council Amid Proposed CEO Salary Raise

Photo: N/A, License: N/A


So why are new homeowners expected to carry the monetary burden? (As Mayor Julián Castro asked, “Anyone would look at that 116 percent figure and say ‘what’s going on here?’ So, what’s your explanation?”). SAWS pointed to capital costs associated with portions of the new brackish groundwater desalination project that collects water from the Wilcox Aquifer. The plan, which necessitates new infrastructure, is meant to reduce dependency on water generation from the Edwards Aquifer, where SAWS has historically derived more than 90 percent of its water. The as-yet untapped resource is expected to meet the city’s water needs for the next 50 years.

As SAWS spokesperson Greg Flores told the Current, “We are now embarking on much more expensive water supply projects than we have in the past.”

But a council-selected group argues the increase doesn’t need to be so high. The Capital Improvements Advisory Committee, community members appointed by Council to review the rates, met over the past 18 months and recommended the fee should be a substantially lower $1,590 (a 23 percent increase) instead of the $2,796 proposed. Group representatives said they calculated the lower rate by omitting new water projects coming online. Farrimond and others find the citizen-led proposed rate easier to swallow and more likely to sustain affordable housing.

In another attempt to mitigate the burden, Castro proposed delaying the increase for six months or until January 1 so those developers now undergoing projects can get the current rate. Flores said the water system intends to charge the higher rate, however, they will consider Castro’s phase-in proposal.

“It’s an idea we’ve been asked to explore, so instead of happening in June, it could happen a little bit further down the road,” he said.

Already seeing pushback from the development community, the exceptionally high increase comes at the same time SAWS has decided to increase Puente’s salary by 15 percent, as first reported by the Express-News and confirmed by the water system. The CEO’s income will rise from $325,187 to $373,966 and he’ll receive a “one-time performance award” of $72,832. The move is reminiscent of CPS’ request to increase utility rates while granting its CEO and top-level executives sizable bonus pay, criticized by economic equality advocates, as the Current previously reported. While the news of Puente’s salary increase debuted just last week, it’s already generating flak from citizens—during a recent council meeting Krier said he found himself getting “chewed up” by constituents, who expressed, “a lot of unhappiness,” about the inequity.

SAWS’ Flores says Puente’s raise is a reflection of his performance and cites decreases in sewer spills, the rise in new water supplies, efficiencies that cut $10 million from the previous budget and continued low overall water bill rates for residents as examples.

But while asking for the highest impact fee rate possible under Texas law, you have to wonder why the SAWS board would simultaneously increase its CEO’s salary, at the least, in respect to public image—and especially following the uproar CPS faced from citizens just a few months back.

Flores declined to comment on the decision’s timing, only saying the choice comes “at the board’s discretion and at their pace,” and is in no way associated with the fee increase.

Council plans to vote on the water supply impact fee increase on May 29; if approved without the requested six-month delay, it would take effect in June 9.

Recently in News
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus