Thursday, August 08, 2013

New column day

Here, on how the City of Regina's wastewater treatment referendum campaign is based on either a major omission as to the costs of privatizing services, or a dangerous assumption that the City doesn't need to have any idea how its own treatment plant works.

For further reading...
- I take my math and assumptions from the report (PDF) endorsed by City Council - which includes the following privatized payment model (emphasis added):
h. In principle, a commitment to providing a performance-based payment for operations, maintenance and availability of the facility, compensating for a range of DBFOM service over the 30 year term, with an estimated cost of:
i. $378.0 million (assuming 3.5 % inflation) in the operation and maintenance portion of the payment to P3 Contractor (“Project Co.”) for the WWTP. These costs are currently an ongoing part of the utility program;
ii. $117.2 million in the major maintenance portion of the payment to Project Co., to ensure that the WWTP’s assets are maintained and upgraded appropriately through the WWTP’s lifecycle; and
iii. $265.0 million towards the capital payment portion of the payment to Project Co. 
I'm not sure how that can be read to suggest anything other than that the money which would otherwise be used to fund the City's wastewater system is intended to be diverted entirely to the private contractor - leaving a gaping hole when it comes to the City's continuing expenses in monitoring the contract and maintaining reserve capacity.

- Meanwhile, Tina Beaudry-Mellor echoes my question as to why it's the City's publicly-funded staff - rather than elected councillors - who are being used to sell the privatized system.

- And Simon Enoch questions some more of the math behind the privatization push.


  1. I count the City's Public Affairs Manager Deb McEwen as a friend. I know her to be a person of principle and character. I do not for a second believe that she would knowingly act - or have her staff act - in a way that was manifestly unethical.

    All that said, I believe that she has made a serious ethical misjudgment in having her social media staff use the #voteno hashtag. It is the task of the city staff, including the public affairs staff, to provide information. It is completely inappropriate for those staff to be campaigning for a particular referendum outcome, especially while "on the clock." The addition of the #voteno hashtag clearly and unequivocally crosses the line from informing to campaigning.

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