Thumbs up, down on KC's water department
The Kansas City Star
Bill Downey, the outsider brought in to look at KC’s Water Services Department, just reported to the City Council that the agency has lots of potential to improve.
That’s another way of saying, of course, that it has lots of problems.
But KC water customers know that.
They have to deal with customer service that’s not the best (yet).
They have to deal with far too many water main breaks.
They have to deal with rapidly rising sewer and water rates.
On Thursday, Downey told the council that the agency “has lots of value.” He doesn’t think it should be sold or parceled out in any way. And he thinks the $500 million sewer revenue bond issue on the Aug. 7 ballot will be wisely used by the department.
Soon, Downey will bring a 5-year funding plan for the agency to the council. Downey told me he expects the proposal will have a list of major projects and how much they will cost, as well as how long they will take to get finished.
That would be a good step forward with customers, who want to see a transparent and improving Water Services Department.
Downey also says customer service will get better, and the agency’s plan will fix a large number of the water leaks.
All of that would be good news for customers.
Council member Cindy Circo said toward the end of the meeting that she wanted the news out of Downey’s appearance to be “good” news: The city is trying to fix the problems.
Fine, except these problems have existed for many years preceding Downey’s intervention (and Circo has been on the council for more than 5 years, so she well knows that.)
The news will be “good” and positive when City Hall actually makes substantial progress on meeting the potential Downey outlined Thursday.