Westlake Shopping for Water Supplier a Case...

Westlake Shopping for Water Supplier a Case Study in Regionalism

Alex Keleman
on Jan 25, 2012

"Westlake's pursuit of new water source threatens stability of Cleveland utility" PD 01-22-12 Should Westlake taxpayers stay in the Cleveland Water system even though their rates will continue to go up and their taxes raised to make local repairs? Their leaving will cost Cleveland and remaining communities more. Do they act in their own interest, or support a regional system?

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What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2014-11-01T03:50:46+00:00
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Peter Comings
on Feb 16, 2012
"For the purpose of keeping reporting aggregated, I would add here the recent podcast from Sound..."
Alex Keleman
on Feb 07, 2012
"Wow, Dan... You went completly the other way on this one. Larkin calls Westlake "filthy rich"..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Feb 07, 2012
"Two days ago, the PD ran the attached column in the forum section. Brent Larkin is never one to..."
Alex Keleman
on Feb 01, 2012
"Good point, Jason and Peter! Regionalism can mean combinations other than those based on the..."
Jason Segedy
on Feb 01, 2012
"From a certain point of view, Westlake deciding to go with Avon Lake water, or Macedonia deciding..."
Peter Comings
on Jan 26, 2012
"Alex, looking at Todd's description of the services ALMU might offer to Westlake and the..."
Todd Danielson
on Jan 26, 2012
"Well summarized, Alex. ... To add background to the discussion, Westlake approached Avon Lake..."

Alex Keleman

Alex Keleman - 2014-11-01T03:50:46+00:00 - ""Westlake's pursuit of new water source threatens stability of Cleveland utility" PD 01-22-12..."

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Dan Moulthrop
on Feb 07, 2012 - 6:04 am

Two days ago, the PD ran the attached column in the forum section. Brent Larkin is never one to mince words, and he really calls out Westlake Mayor Dennis Clough. He gets a bit personal at times, but the importance of the piece, I thought, becomes clear about half way in: 

If Westlake tries to leave the system, Cleveland says it would seek $39 million from Westlake for the value of improvements made to the Westlake water system. A consultant hired by Cleveland estimated it would cost Westlake at least $47 million more in capital costs to build its own water infrastructure.

So, is Clough willing to take an $86 million gamble that will result in prolonged and costly litigation -- with the potential to drain the city's bank account, drive it deeply into debt and wreck its credit rating?  

Larkin writes that Westlake has about $50 million in the bank. Is this what residents want to spend it on?

 

Responses(2)

Alex Keleman
on Feb 07, 2012

Wow, Dan...

You went completly the other way on this one. Larkin calls Westlake "filthy rich" and you give the whole thing a pass, call it a "little bit personal?" How does that setup help the regional dialogue in NE Ohio?

Instead of calling him out on the overgeneralizations, you quote the superious consultants paid by Cleveland and assume $86 million is correct because, well, because they said it. And to back them up, we have... Ciaccia? Really?

We're taking regionalism lessons from Ciaccia, late of cleveland Water, now emperor of NEORSD, the ultimate "take it or leave it" regional governing model.

Larkin is the anthesis of the open two way conversation that I thought  Civic Commons was about. Old school, ink-stained fingers typing away on his Olivetti, longing for the old days when Cleveland and the PD newsroom called the shots.

 

 
Peter Comings
on Feb 16, 2012

For the purpose of keeping reporting aggregated, I would add here the recent podcast from Sound of Ideas. My little issue with this was the fact that Todd Danielson was not included for context, but I felt I got a lot out of the hour spent listening.

 
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Todd Danielson
on Jan 26, 2012 - 11:10 am

Well summarized, Alex. ... To add background to the discussion, Westlake approached Avon Lake Municipal Utilities, a neighboring regional water supplier, about the possibility of providing water to the City. Westlake desires to create its own water department so that they may maintain their own system and quickly respond to issues. Knowing Avon Lake Municipal Utilities has been providing water to other jurisdictions since the 1970's, Westlake asked ALMU if it would be interested in providing them bulk water. Should Westlake's engineering, legal, and financial analyses indicate that it is in Westlake's interest to switch, Avon Lake Municipal Utilities stands ready for Westlake's 32,000 residents to join the 185,000+ people already served by ALMU in Lorain, Medina, Cuyahoga, Ashland, Huron, Erie, and Wayne Counites.

 
Alex Keleman
on Jan 25, 2012 - 4:11 pm

Heres's the PD story:

http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2012/01/westlakes_pursuit_of_new_water.html

and my thoughts:

A.) Cleveland Water has to be one of the worst-run Cleveland-based regional entities. Bad billing, inconsistent, poor managementB.) Westlake residents are faced with ever-increasing rates to cover (A.), while still having to pay again to make water system infrastructure improvements in their city which Cleveland refuses to cover.In essence, they pay twice.

C.) Cleveland does not deny either fact (A.) or (B.)but using as one of their arguments that Westlake should stay in Cleveland Water to be fair to Cleveland and the other communities who will have to pay even higher rates to cover both (A.) and the decreased user base caused by Westlake's leaving.

D.) You are on Westlake Council, elected to serve Westlake residents (as I am in my city.) You can either vote to continue (B.) and support the region, even thoughit will cost your constiuents more, or to stop the cycle to go to over to Avon water.

 

"Regionalism" says Westlake taxpayers should pay higher water rates and taxes to maintain the system because they can "afford it" and to be "fair."  As is other existing and potential regional arrangements, this one is stacked against Westlake and in favor of the urban area Celveland- they have no input on mamgement or rates. It is, after all, Celveland's Water system. Westlake is merely the water customer, lucky enough in this case to have another water option. I think I have summarized the situation --am I missing a point?

I am afraid that like most regionalism discussions, this one will not be decided by voters, but by a judge.

 

Responses(3)

Peter Comings
on Jan 26, 2012

Alex, looking at Todd's description of the services ALMU might offer to Westlake and the geography it already serves, I would suggest that to be regional should not necessitate staying with Cleveland in this. I quietly wonder if the suburbs in any grouping might not offer stronger ties to each other for service development.

 
Jason Segedy
on Feb 01, 2012

From a certain point of view, Westlake deciding to go with Avon Lake water, or Macedonia deciding to go wtih Akron water could still be construed as "regionalism"; just not the Cleveland-centric variety.  Based on my limited understanding, both communities would be agglomerating with large, established utilties (Avon Lake and Akron) that serve multiple jurisdictions in Northeast Ohio.

I make this point simply to illustrate that what we have in Northeast Ohio is, in fact, a polycentric region, rather than a monocentric region.  We have more in common with San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose in that respect, than we do with Atlanta.

 

 

 
Alex Keleman
on Feb 01, 2012

Good point, Jason and Peter!

Regionalism can mean combinations other than those based on the central city.

The Twin Citiies is touted as the model of regionalism, where revenue sharing should make competition for business and funding a thing of the past.

Not so much, when it comes to "who's regionalism is it?" The centuriy-old rivalry between Minneapolis and St. Paul continues:

"Regionalism does not mean the west metro gets everything, and St. Paul and the east metro gets scraps," Coleman said. "We've got to stand up and we've got to fight." --

St. Paul Mayor Coleman takes aim at Minneapolis, Target Center funding - St Paul Pioneer Press, 1/31/12

 

http://www.twincities.com/ci_19861170?source=most_viewed

 
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