For the past eight years I have fought to improve the quality of life in Pasco County. One of the most important issues I have encountered has been to help citizens who are served by private utilities and have dealt with high rates, poor water quality, and poor service.
I was delighted to be appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to serve on the "Study Committee on Investor-Owned Water and Wastewater Utility Systems." The committee was created by our state legislators. Some of the topics the committee will cover include impact on rates, options of providing service through re-sellers, and other issues. There is a committee meeting scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday at the West Pasco Government Center, first floor boardroom, 8731 Citizens Drive, New Port Richey. The legislation enacted on this issue states that "at least two meetings must be held in an area centrally located to utility customers who have been affected by a significant increase in water or wastewater utility rates. The public shall be given the opportunity to speak at the meetings."
This committee has the potential to be very influential with regard to the future regulation of all private utilities in the state. The committee's recommendations will be brought back to the Legislature for the passage of new regulations. In meetings over the past two years dealing with the Aqua Utilities rate case, I have emphasized that there is only so much that the public can do and that we need to focus on changing the legislation governing private utilities.
The opportunity is here. I encourage everyone who can attend the meeting Wednesday to do so. You have a chance to be heard by a committee that will be making recommendations to the Legislature. If you cannot attend the meeting, you can call my office at 727-847-8100 (west side) or 352-521-4111 (east side) and leave a message with your comments; or email the Public Service Commission, c/o JoAnn Chase, at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or me at email@example.com to provide your comments.