Home > Uncategorized > The Chester PA Experience SHOULD Prove that Privatizing Schools is Bad… After Flint MI it SHOULD be Clear that Privatizing Water is Worse… But PA Government Officials Never Learn

The Chester PA Experience SHOULD Prove that Privatizing Schools is Bad… After Flint MI it SHOULD be Clear that Privatizing Water is Worse… But PA Government Officials Never Learn

February 12, 2021

In the Public Interest works tirelessly to inform voters and the general public about the hazards of privatization, but myths die hard— especially the myth that “running government like as business” is a good idea. The latest chapter in this misguided belief is about to unfold in York, PA, where the town fathers have come up with the brilliant idea of outsourcing the water supply management to a private company, which is touted in the local newspaper op ed by the Mayor and (ahem) the President of the private water company as a really good deal!

Pennsylvania American Water’s offer allows the city to strategically chart a path forward that increases economic opportunity for all York residents and businesses.

That mindset is a component of Pennsylvania American Water’s DNA. The company has a proven track record as a customer-centered and community-focused company with a deep commitment to corporate responsibility and the environment.

From McKeesport to Scranton, Fairview Township to Steelton — Pennsylvania American Water has brought financial stability to the communities it serves while also increasing reliability of wastewater treatment services.

The company has committed to not propose a rate increase for a minimum of three years. And it will invest millions of dollars to modernize and upgrade the York system to provide safe and reliable wastewater treatment services to the community for generations to come.

Meanwhile, the city’s proceeds from the asset sale will serve as a foundation for financial stability and a spark for economic growth.

Independent experts from the Pennsylvania Economy League agree the sale is York’s best hope of digging itself out of its perpetual and worsening budget hole. But we don’t need experts to tell us what we already know — that York is a great place to live, work and play. This opportunity will only make it better.

With this proposed public-private partnership, the future of York is looking brighter than ever.

The future is even brighter for shareholders of Pennsylvania Water, which received $168.8 million in government subsidies and made a profit of $621 million. It takes money to make money, I suppose… but all of their subsidies and all of their profit come from taxpayers! In a study ITPI completed, they came to these conclusions regarding water:

We reviewed the existing research and found that:

  • Many U.S. water systems are aging and need lots of work to ensure they meet health, safety, and environmental standards.
  • The federal government has dropped the ball. Federal support for water infrastructure has declined 77 percent in real terms since its peak in 1977.
  • Private water corporations often cut corners to reduce operating costs, harming water quality or service quality, or both.
  • Many of the systems that need the most investment serve marginalized, low-income communities, many of which are communities of color.

This is why the Biden administration and Congress must increase federal investment in local water systems. Luckily, legislation being discussed—the Water, Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act—would do just that.

After the Michigan Governor’s debacle with Flint’s water system and Chester PA’s debacle with outsourcing public education one would think that a mayor of a mid-size PA city would be cautious about engaging in a private-public partnership, especially with a corporation whose balance sheet is already fat. But the mayor believes the economic growth that will burgeon from this investment will cover the costs. Thirty years from now I doubt that will be true… but who will remember?

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