Advocacy Alert: North SA Chamber Opposes Proposed Storm Water Fee Changes

North Chamber logo 4c stackedThe City of San Antonio (CoSA) Transportation & Capital Improvements (TCI) proposed a project to “migrate the existing Storm Water Utility Fee from one based upon land use and parcel size to one based upon impervious cover,” and completed a study to determine revenues needed to be recovered by the fee over the next five years. TCI has communicated the proposed changes in rate methodology to various stakeholders including governmental agencies, chambers of commerce, professional and other organizations, as well as school districts. Learn more about the Storm Water Utility Fee

As the process has progressed, the North SA Chamber, as a stakeholder, has determined the proposed Storm Water Fee changes will penalize property owners for building activity that occurred before the adoption of the proposed methodology and rates. The Storm Water Fee restructuring will affect both residential and commercial customers.

The North SA Chamber board of directors met Tuesday, July 22, 2014 and voted in opposition of the proposed Storm Water Fee as it is currently presented. We have seen example commercial Storm Water Fee calculations using the proposed methodology showing in most cases, increases of several hundred percent, and in some cases, increases of more than 1000% or even 2000%. This is unreasonable. Click here to read the letter your North SA Chamber sent to city staff and officials

The Storm Water Fee restructuring will result in increases in commercial fees that will be burdensome to absorb by public schools, colleges, universities and existing businesses with large campuses including corporate headquarters, manufacturing facilities, hotels/resorts, attractions, multi-family housing, commercial office complexes, auto dealerships, retail establishments and others. Additionally, the new methodology and rates would be unattractive to an existing business considering expansion or a new business considering relocation within the city limits of San Antonio, thus will result in a negative impact on business retention, expansion and recruitment.

North SA Chamber Position:
The North SA Chamber is opposed to an increase in Storm Water Fees to any individual user of more than 10% in any given fiscal year. The North SA Chamber respectfully requests that the proposed Storm Water Fee restructuring not be adopted in the 2015 CoSA budget, and that the process be permitted to continue further until the City, stakeholders and the public can address issues including the definition of impervious cover, methodology, rate structure and appeals. Click here to obtain the Advocacy Alert flyer

Call to Action:

  • Contact the Mayor and your City Council Representative.
  • Tell them September 2014 is too early to adopt the flawed, proposed Storm Water Fee restructuring.
  • Tell them you are opposed to the Storm Water Fee proposed methodology and rates.
  • Ask them to continue to revise the proposed Storm Water Fee methodology and rates with stakeholder and public input.

City Elected Officials Contact Information:

Mayor Ivy R. Taylor

Councilman Diego Bernal, District 1

Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran, District 3

Councilman Rey Saldana, District 4

Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales, District 5

Councilman Ray Lopez, District 6

Councilman Cris Medina, District 7

Councilman Ron Nirenberg, District 8

Councilman Joe Krier, District 9

Councilman Mike Gallagher, District 10

City of San Antonio Mayor & City Council

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 839966
San Antonio, TX 78283

Physical Address
City Hall, 4th Floor
100 Military Plaza
San Antonio, TX 78205

Advocacy Alert SWF Flyer

Council tentatively set to vote on CPS Energy rate adjustment November 7

cps energy logoAfter months of rigorous analysis and back and forth with CPS Energy staff, the city of San Antonio’s chief financial officer recommended to the City Council Wednesday that it approve CPS Energy’s 4.25 percent rate increase request.

Ben Gorzell told the council at its information session that CPS Energy staff had worked diligently to make the request as low as possible while still protecting the utility’s top notch credit rating.

“We worked very closely with their staff, and we found significant improvement in the whole budget (process) since 2010, an increased rigor,” he said, “which I’m sure has to do with (CEO) Doyle Beneby’s leadership and what he’s asked staff to do.”

Gorzell made four additional recommendations to CPS Energy as part of his presentation. They include that CPS Energy:

  • commit to working collaboratively with the city to study CPS Energy’s pensions and benefits plans and associated costs;
  • continue to enhance its capital project prioritization process;
  • continues to address customer service issues in billing and call center departments; and
  • review its fuel hedging program, taking into consideration costs and potential benefits of the program.

The council, for its part, also lauded Beneby and the staff who worked on the budget and rate proposal, praising them for listening to the community and reducing the bonus program by 50 percent in both 2015 and 2016.

“Thanks for listening and fine tuning the ask,” said Councilman Cris Medina, who had taken a lead role in demanding changes to the bonus program the CPS Energy board of trustees put into place 13 years ago.

District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña urged the utility to increase outreach to low income customers to sign them up for affordability programs.

“We’ve actually taken your words to heart,” said Beneby, noting that efforts are now underway to identify those who have multiple late payments, to see if they qualify for the increased affordability discount.

Ron Nirenberg, who represents District 8, praised the utility for its extensive public outreach efforts, which included customer care fairs in districts across the city, a public input session, attendance at various council events, extensive social media outreach and blog posts on topics ranging from how rates are determined to how the rate increase will be used.

Asked whether city staff ever recommends against an increase, Gorzell explained that the process was designed to get to a place where the city and the utility are aligned.

“We started out in a different place,” he said, then the two staffs go back and forth until city staff is satisfied that it can recommend the request. In this case, CPS Energy responded by slashing its bonus program, increasing money to help low income customers pay their bills, and delayed some capital projects to reduce the rate increase request from 4.75 percent to 4.25 percent.

The City Council is expected to vote on the increase on Nov. 7.


CPS Energy reduces rate request to 4.25 percent

CPS Energy to reduce EIP, lower rate request

First round answers to City Council questions on rate increase

Rate increase request: Letter from the CEO

Capital projects, infrastructure upgrades drive rate increase request