Tuesday, April 5, 2016


"But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people, and took from them bread and wine, besides forty shekels of silver. Yes, even their servants bore rule over the people, but I did not do so, because of the fear of God."
Nehemiah 5:15

From her April Newsletter:
Update on High Water Bills
 This week I will be introducing a water bill protection resolution to City Council that will help with unexplained high water bills in the future. To address the overwhelming concerns I heard from residents throughout the City, this resolution implements a new policy that will allow for an adjustment to certain water bills with excess usage not explained by a particular cause. I have been working closely with Austin Water for months to find a solution to this problem. As our cost of living rises, utilities are a critical aspect of affordable living in Austin, and I hope this will be one tool to provide protection for unexplained spikes..

Utility Transfers
Did you know that almost $200 Million in revenue from Austin Water and Austin Energy is transferred into the General Revenue fund and used on other city expenses?  This transfer inevitably impacts the continually increasing rates, and contributes to higher utility bills.  While some argue that this is the "return on investment" to ratepayers in the same way that stockholders receive dividends, I believe the return should come in the form of lower rates.

Last month, I sponsored and passed resolutions to consider potential reductions in General Fund transfers from both Austin Energy and Austin Water.  The City Manager was directed to report back to City Council with the impact of reducing those transfers on your monthly water and electric bills so we can utilize this data during budget discussions and hopefully reduce these transfers. Transparency means that money you spend on your utility bills should go to pay for your water and electricity, and this is the first step in aiming to address this issue.

More Diversions: Pilot Knob
During a recent Council meeting, my resolution to reconsider the controversial Pilot Knob affordable housing deal passed. In December, as a part of a zoning case, the Council agreed to an affordable housing program that diverted more than $50 million in growth-related fees away from Austin Water into a fund for subsidized housing. However, when that vote took place, many Council members did not have critical financial information about this deal and were shocked to learn that such a major policy decision was buried inside what seemed to be a routine zoning case. Failure to disclose this information also led to a lawsuit by open government supporters. I immediately took action and sponsored a resolution to allow the Council to reconsider that deal as well as the impact such diversion of funds would have on our water bills. I fear the Pilot Knob deal will set a very dangerous [precedent].
Read the whole thing here.

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