Monarch’s claims are only part of the story

Posted Saturday, Nov. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Nov. 3 Star-Telegram guest column by Charles Profilet, president of Monarch Utilities, made inaccurate and misleading assertions about water and sewer services for its customers in Blue Mound.

Profilet says Monarch has spent more than $900,000 on improvements to the water/sewer system in Blue Mound since 2005. Yet, he fails to note that the $900,000 will be paid over 25 years while the company collects more than $36 million from ratepayers.

Profilet also fails to note that Monarch’s rates are already more than 200 percent higher than Blue Mound’s neighbors, the cities of Saginaw and Fort Worth. Nor does he explain why many other private water providers in the area have rates that are much lower than Monarch’s.

In short, Monarch’s current water rates are obscenely high. But that is not stopping them from trying to push them even higher.

Last year Monarch raised rates by 14.3 percent, and this year Monarch is asking for a 14.4 percent increase. Unbelievably, the company claims that it is entitled to ask for an additional 30 percent increase that it could impose next year.

If Monarch were to get what it is asking for in water rate increases, residents of our city could see their rates rise more than 59 percent in less than three years.

Under that scenario, the typical customer in Blue Mound would be paying more than $200 per month for basic water and sewer service, to the best of my knowledge the highest water/sewer rates in Texas.

Profilet also makes the preposterous claim that Blue Mound violated a provision of a 2012 water rate settlement agreement to not put into effect another water and sewer rate increase before Jan. 1, 2014. This is not true.

Finally, Profilet has misrepresented our city’s attempt to find a satisfactory solution.

On Oct. 22, the Blue Mound City Council held a public hearing on this year’s rate increase requested by Monarch. As mayor, I personally invited Profilet or any other Monarch representative to come explain and justify Monarch’s rate increase request.

No one representing Monarch showed up at the public hearing.

Now, in spite of failing to appear, Profilet complains in the Star-Telegram opinion column about the Blue Mound City Council.

He has no standing to complain after not showing up or sending anyone else to represent Monarch at our recent water rate hearing.

Monarch and Profilet are fond of saying that Blue Mound has the power to determine its own water and sewer rates. Sadly, this is not true.

Monarch appeals any city decision that it’s not happy with to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in Austin. Then the company bludgeons the city into submission with its superior spending power for attorney’s fees, expenses and other costs of appeal.

It seems that Monarch is determined to either bankrupt Blue Mound in fighting its exorbitant rates or bankrupt Blue Mound residents who pay for basic and necessary services.

In this year’s regular legislative session, state Rep. Charlie Geren, R-Fort Worth, and state Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Lewisville, carried legislation that would have allowed our city to purchase the private water system from Monarch for a fair price and turn it into a city-owned water service.

Even though this legislation received super-majority support from legislators in the House and Senate, Gov. Rick Perry mysteriously vetoed the bill.

Regardless of Profilet’s contentions, the truth is our residents are held hostage to Monarch for water and sewer services — and the more we pay, the more Monarch profits.

Alan Hooks is the mayor of Blue Mound.

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