From time to time our board is asked to consider public policy ideas that affect a minority of our users, rather than a majority.
Recently, a Wood County village asked the District’s board to consider implementing a “senior citizen discount.”
It’s a normal, fair request to give a break to a portion of our users who may have financial difficulty with their monthly bills. Who wouldn’t support this idea?
This is a dilemma for a public agency. However, other agencies in the region offer something similar already. Why do some agencies offer discounts or special programs while others do not? Why isn’t there more continuity or consistency in matters like this?
Let me share my answers, which may be different than our board members.
1. All utility companies are different (from water to sewer to electric to gas).
2. Some are “for-profit”, some are “non-profit”, some are government and some are
3. Some have privately appointed boards, others elected officials, others are appointed by
4. Some operations are funded by tax dollars and some are self-supporting.
5. Some geographical areas are more economical to serve and some are more difficult to
reach and more complex to operate, which may cost more.
6. Some are primarily residential, while others have larger commercial or industrial users to support their operations.
7. Some systems are new with debt, some are old with little debt while others are in between.
8. Some are in good overall condition, some are worn-out and in need of repairs and cash
to fund them.
9. Some have operating and treatment problems with Ohio EPA and some follow the rules
and take care of themselves.
10. Some have professional operators and some need additional education, better staffing and motivation for them to operate efficiently, safely and economically.
I’m not writing all of this to confuse the issue but to explain different organizations do
different things for different reasons. Policies vary by industry and by organization. Some have more resources to use than others.
For the District, senior discounts, low-income discounts, single-family, commercial,
industrial discounts are difficult to introduce without support or subsidizing by another
customer class and administrative costs to implement and maintain from year-to-year.
The board has chosen not to offer these discounts without another funding source than
raising rates to others. It seems fair to all users, without exceptions.