Mar. 11, 2021
TO THE EDITOR:
The proposed sale of the Carteret County Water System is coming up for a vote before the county commissioners on March 15. Since the public has had little prior notice and has received little information concerning this transaction, I would be grateful if the county commissioners could address the following points for their constituents:
1. Why has the public not been involved in the process so far?
a. Why has there been no widely-advertised avenue for public input?
b. What was behind the processes leading up to the proposed sale?
c. Where are the minutes of the various meetings held on this issue?
d. Why was this sale proposed in the first place?
e. During the February 15 meeting of the county commissioners, why were the only questions directed at the process of bids and sale, and not about the impacts to our community?
2. What are the fiscal arguments for selling the system?
a. Is the system having major, chronic cost overruns?
b. Is there some major infrastructure upgrade coming that will be hugely expensive?
c. The water system study commissioned by the county showed a $14,000 cash flow surplus. Why not keep a profitable system?
d. If the system was appraised at $12 million in 2019, why would the county sell the system for $7 million?
e. If the system was sold to a private company, why would the county still be responsible for the current $2 million outstanding debt after the sale?
3. There are obvious downsides to privatizing this county utility:
a. As a county system, it is non-profit. If it is privatized, it then becomes for-profit, resulting in almost unavoidable rate increases to satisfy shareholders, not community users.
b. Private system managers would probably be less responsive to user needs/problems than county employees currently managing our excellent system.
c. What will become of the 5.5 cent special tax of all residents in the water district?
It would be extremely helpful if the county commissioners could answer these questions for their constituents before this sale is approved.