Missouri American Water (MAW) apparently has finally taken “no” for an answer.
The privately-owned company, which reportedly has been expressing interest in acquiring the city’s water system, has been told the city has no interest in selling by City Manager Jeff LaGarce and the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA).
“Our sister utility at Missouri Public Utility Alliance told them to back off,” said Cindy Livesay, director of communications for the BPW. “MPUA said it would aid in whatever fight it would take to get them to back off and to leave our municipality alone.”
“The threat is past,” reported Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW, during a meeting of the BPW Board Tuesday afternoon.
The BPW had scheduled a press conference for Tuesday to discuss developments, but cancelled the event after a “flurry of activity” Tuesday morning.
“They knew we were serious about this and we not just going to give up our water system,” said Livesay. “We got in contact with them today. They got a letter from our City Council stating that we are not interested in selling and in return they sent us a letter stating they would back off and put this to rest.”
According to Livesay, since this spring MAW had been holding public meetings with “influential leaders in our community.”
“We’ve politely told them we’re not interested in selling and they still proceeded with meetings,” she said. “We had a ‘game plan’ in mind to sort of fight back, if you will, on what we should do to discredit what they were doing and about why we should keep our municipally-owned system. That’s what we were going to discuss at the press conference.”
Stevenson cited two primary reasons why turning over control of the city’s water system was not a good idea.
“One is value,” he said. “The true value of our water system is $200 million, which is what it would cost to replace it right now, and we have been investing in that for over 125 years. Nobody would offer us that, but they would offer something, maybe 10 cents on the dollar. That’s not a good deal when you look at it that way.
“The second thing has to do with local control. We like it when we can set our own rates. When I say ‘we’ I mean our citizens in Hannibal. What we wouldn’t like is for somebody - the Public Service Commission in Jefferson City - setting our rates for us. We’d lose control over what our water costs. We would also lose control over things we want to do with our water system such as how and when we expand, or repair it.”
Page 2 of 2 - According to its website, Missouri American Water serves “approximately 1.5 million people in more than 100 communities,” including Mexico, Jefferson City, Joplin, Warrensburg, St. Joseph, Brunswick, St. Charles County, St. Louis County and Platte County/Parkville in Missouri.
Overall, MAW operates in more than 30 states and parts of Canada.