Kansas City Water Privatization Still a Hot Topic
The Kansas City Star’s Yael Abouhalkah has a solid piece today on the state of water and sewer privatization in Kansas City. Or, rather, the hopeful event of water and sewer privatization in Kansas City. Saint Louis County has almost a million people who are served by private water utilities. If it works here — and it does — it can work in Kansas City.
We have written plenty on Kansas City water privatization before. Like Saint Louis sewer customers, Kansas City residents are going to face fairly large water and sewer bill increases whether privatization happens or not. They can pay a private company to fix the problems and manage the system, or they can pay the government more to fix the problems and manage the system — the same government whose management put them in this situation in the first place. (To be fair, not all of the cost issues can be blamed on Kansas City management. Many of the sewer issues are substantially the fault of over-regulation by the EPA.)
Privatizing the entire system would have many benefits for Kansas City. It would get a large amount of money from the sale which it could use in a variety of ways. It would expand the tax base by putting the water company assets on the tax rolls. The city would capitalize on all the engineering expertise right there in Kansas City. It would take the choices on rates out of the hands of politicians, who often under-price municipal utilities for political gains. There are plenty of other benefits as well. I hope Kansas City continues to seriously consider this idea.