Water RFP to be discussed Monday, March 26, 7PM
at Cohasset Middle/High School – Pond Street
The Water Commission’s proposed concession contract has nothing to do with water; water is merely the currency. It has everything to do with ‘the deal’ and consolidating power within the commission.
First, at one time it was the Water Commissioners putting together a big deal, mostly to impress their friends but also to rehabilitate the tarnished image of their failure to manage a simple operation. At the start it was a 20-year contract with a $4-5 million concession fee; now it is a 10-year contract with a $1.1 million concession fee. It’s no longer a ‘big deal’ but now it is even more important for the Commissioners to succeed; it is a small deal to save face at any price.
Second, the concession fee is nothing but a loan to an enterprise that is unworthy of further credit. It bankrupted itself three years ago and hasn’t been able to balance its books since; it required a bailout from Town Meeting in each of the past two years. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that it is a loan to the town with the check made out to the Water Department; it is their stated intent to cash it and keep it.
Third, the payment of a management fee is just one part of the contractor’s compensation that also includes a share of profits to be made from the sale of water to customers outside of the Town of Cohasset. There’s a performance fee as well: financial goals (including a 5% increase in said outside sales) and customer satisfaction (not including reduced fees or rates).
Fourth, the Contractor’s gross revenue consists of operating and management costs for the plant and the system, and also repayment of debt incurred under the Town’s name and for which the taxpayers are ultimately liable. Mixed in is the collection and dispersal of sewer revenues. This Contractor will be more our banker than our water provider. This all smacks of an overriding need to shelter this revenue and information from the public: not at all healthy.
Last, let’s flash back to the diatribes by Commissioner DeCaprio about the Water Department/Commission being a totally independent entity. After spending thousands of dollars to prove the opposite, the RFP states that the Town Manager is, after all, the Chief Procurement Officer. However, it also states that renewal of the contract is the Water Department’s sole option eliminating the Town Manager’s role but does concede Town Meeting approval.
This contract would place decision-making authority in the Water Commission by eliminating oversight or participation from the Town Manager and Finance Director. It gives control of the sale of our water to the Contractor who merely has to report sales. It makes the Contractor the Town’s banker by transferring control of the revenue to a private vendor who again merely has to file financial reports. Liability for future capital improvements remains with the ratepayers, as new debt will not affect the listed obligation of the Contractor.
The Water Department has had its fun and games. DeCaprio now displays the scalp of former Town Manager Mike Coughlin in his trophy case with no fear of penalty. This entire scheme remains dangerous in many, many ways*. Enough is enough; the last thing this town should do is to accept this contract in any form whatsoever.
*See also the comments by the Tinytown’s independent consultant© Copyright 2012 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed