Water, Water everywhere- Follow the Money

Kathryn  Kennedy has been reading   and doing the numbers. Once again sharing the reporting from the Face Book page https://www.facebook.com/groups/564407974518417    so   readers can share and information doesnt get lost in the  scroll down.


JANUARY 14, 2021


Kathryn Kennedy  posted on City  of Lorain Politics Page all kinds of detail from the recent Performance Audit completed by the State Auditors.
  1. Lorain has relied on borrowing money to fund projects rather than paying for projects as they are completed – or using grants. This increases expenses (interest) – and leads to higher utility rates.
  2. Water sewer is overstaffed by 14 employees compared to peer cities. Reducing staff would decrease expenses by $1 million – this could be a larger number with the recent 2021 longevity pay. Reducing staff would decrease overall expenses which would reduce rates.
  3. Lorain could use ARPA relief money for water sewer projects which would reduce rates for customers. Lorain received $32.5 million. Have not heard that it will be used for this purpose.
  4. https://www.brown.senate.gov/…/brown-water… $30 million awarded. How/where will this be used?
  5. Lorain doesn’t use full capacity of water treatment plant. Would make sense to partner with other cities to use at full capacity. Would decrease costs to all customers. Could also look at becoming part of a regional water group (Avon Lake has capacity) to keep costs down for customers.
  6. An analysis needs to be completed to determine what rates should be without overburdening customers and accumulating large cash balances. This includes a reserve fund (like a fall back savings account if needed). Data collected now does not support this goal.
  7. The city needs a formal capital improvement plan. (Thought there was one – or more – done in the past?)
The mayor guides city policy. But, council members have to approve much of this through the budget, etc. We shall see what they do – and if they have any questions or push back for the Sewer Water Advisory Board. The meeting is Monday evening. 
Copy of the performance audit for water/sewer for you reading pleasure. Bradley response and SWAB recommendations (Sewer Water Advisory Board)
SWAB ( Sewer Water Advisory  Board) report
SWAB recommendations
Page 8 of State Performance Audit.
Lorain collects revenues far in excess of expenses. And, compared to other cities. At the end of 2020, there was $44 million in cash on the balance sheet.
Expenses are greater in Lorain than peer cities – in all categories. Instead of using the extra cash collected to pay for projects as they are completed, the city has taken out loans – which means they are also paying more in interest charges than if they used the cash.
Also of interest on this page – the treatment plant is operated at 38 percent capacity.
Similar comments as original post for wastewater. Page 14 of audit report
PAGE 9 of Audit report 
Page 9 of audit.
Recommendation to eliminate 6.5 full time positions from water treatment and distribution. SWAB recommends keeping these positions. One of the reasons the city expenses are higher than peer cities.
Support for reducing staff – Lorain treats less water per Operator and maintains less square footage.
Pages 10 and 11 of audit report.
SWAB does not recommend reducing staff.
Recommendation to improve billing data collection system in order to accurately assign future water sewer rates across customer classes.  ” Audit” 
SWAB doesn’t address this issue.
To  be continued…………….

About thatwoman

It is the principle of the thing! No agendas ( I think? at least I try) I write therefore I am
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