Beaufort, N.C.

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.

MICHAEL DYKSTRA

(8) comments

David Collins

First , follow the money , always do that .

Secondly , who are the winners and how will they profit ? Does anyone happen to own shares of the acquiring publicly traded company in their investment portfolio ?

I too am curious of the proposed selling price vs the advertised estimate of value . This is obviously a case of shedding of responsibility for the county to have to deal with . Could more of this be on the way ?

What agency will provide oversight on the operation of this water system when once sold ? Is any agency known to be effective or is it made up of backslapping do nothings ?

Carteret Native 01

Al young'uns, where are your conservative values? You fly the stars and bars, but you want the government to run your water system? Don't you believe in capitalism and free enterprise. Smaller government means getting out of businesses that private companies can do better. You should be willing and proud to pay higher water rates and support free enterprise and high profits for the new water company. Besides, try watching those Commisioners meetings on your television and tell me that you want that crowd to be keeping your drinking water safe. We're in a scrape and waffling conservatives aren't going to get us out of this mess.

sick and tired

I have a question too.

1. If we are selling services, hiring other firms to run things why do we need elected officials?

2. Why do I pay a "fee" on my property tax bill for water when I am on a well? I don't have city/county water sewer BUT I am charged a "fee" When I called and asked I was told that I have to pay a fee for whatever water district I am in no matter if I have city/county water. They said for example if my house catches on fire they would be using water to put it out. Of course, me being dumb I thought that was covered under my fire and rescue tax but what do I know.

Any way, back to my questions.

3. If this company takes over the water am I going to have to pay them a "fee" as well as pay a "fee" on my tax bill?

mpjeep

I doubt you will get many answers to your “great” questions, but there is plenty of research that shows privatization leaves communities with higher rates, worse service, and job losses.

There will also certainly be a loss of transparency since private companies restrict access to information, unlike the public sector. Water is a vital public resource and private companies are accountable to their stockholders, not the public.

I wonder what promises are being made through the negotiations?

NC-Native-Son

Local governments have always run water systems. The capitalist view wants private competition but we can't have multiple water companies running lines everywhere.

Carteret lady

Aqua North Carolina is a large water company with holdings in many communities in numerous counties and most of those communities are not satisfied with the services they receive from this company, mainly, very poor quality water with much debris, inconsistent pressure and sometimes dangerous contents. Do a search for this company and you will find complaints, legal action, and costly damage to consumers. Wake County is just one of the areas negatively affected by this company.

carteretresident

Enough of that librul woke BLM talk. We Republicans are smart and want free enterprise. I learned that in my GED class. Business have never violated the public trust.

DeadBolt

These doorknobs have just eliminated themselves , and relic ideas right out of the game, because there is no need for anything more then a small staff for these useless gimps. (truth be told , the town is probably covering up 10 million worth of structural repair that they will 'immediately' fine this new company for , and use the court system to run a huge hustle on them, hahahahahahahah) .

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