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ONLY ON 3: CFPUA chair: What problems?

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: CFPUA chair: What problems?
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Problem-plagued and a reputation in ruin. The CFPUA won't win any popularity contests. Now, the utility monopoly is making claims that would leave most scratching their heads.

Tuesday night Wilmington City Council tabled the CFPUA's request to hire a collection agency to gather delinquent funds. Council member Kevin O'Grady believes technical issues at the utility are so serious, that the request is "not ready to be considered."

So what needs to be fixed? CFPUA chair Gene Renzaglia says your guess is as good as his.

"I have no idea what they meant by technical problems," he said.

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said City Council has many questions for the authority that must be answered before the request can move forward. Some of those questions are why should the city pay and how much?

"How much is required by them to make these collections, and why was the city being asked to help with collections when it's very clear with Cape Fear Public Utility Authority that they are supposed to make those collections?"

Saffo said council continues to be concerned with issues concerning the authority's billing problems. But Renzaglia says all these issues have been resolved.

"The billing issue that occurred when we first started lasted approximately five or six months," Renzaglia said. "Those bills have been corrected, and bills have been correct for the past over two years now."

Yet Tuesday, we told you about Stephanie Bell, who is just the most recent case of CFPUA's problems. Bell said the authority is trying to charge her for a water meter the city disconnected seven years ago. She said the CFPUA even serving her with a disconnect notice for not paying.

"He said he was here to disconnect, but there was nothing to disconnect because the water was already turned off," Bell said.

For now, the city is turned off to helping the authority fix another problem. Saffo said the council hopes to have its questions answered by its next meeting in January.

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Who runs CFPUA? Who is financially responsible?

Who is the CFPUA? Who runs the Authority? Who regulates the Authority?

These were questions I started asking recently, and I have found no real definitive answers.

I started with the NC Public Utilities Commission. They regulate private companies, those not regulated by the local municipalities. CFPUA was not regulated by them. That meant the municipality was to govern the body and be liable for any problems. Supposedly.

The State Attorney General's Office returned a call wherein I had been seeking information. I believe the office was a general hotline or consumer section. Through that office, I was told that the county and city board members are on the board, so they run the Authority, that it is a municipality situation. I was also given the section of law under which Authorities are to be created - NCGS 162A-1. This is an 18 page section, that I will be studying soon.

So, this information would leave the normal person believing the city council and county board run the Authority and are liable for any problems. This could not be further from the truth. Just try calling the City of Wilmington and ask them if they run the water utility.

It is my understanding that there are 11 board members, 4 from the municipality, and the rest appointed. If the municipality has the authority to remove board members, and I do not know that they do, then it would again appear that the municipality was running the Authority. However, liabilty is a different issue.

Apparently, the charter or contract that set up the Authority, left all liability in the Authority's lap. This includes an EPA investigation that has been ongoing since before the Authority was formed. I have learned that $2 million has been earmarked by either the City or County to go toward fines if the EPA finds against them. The Authority will have to pay any other fines, and that means we will.

I noticed in the article above, that CFPUA asked the City Council to hire a debt collection agency. WAIT!!! WHOA!!! Who is running what? Why would they ask the City of Wilmington or New Hanover County for anything? What type of fiasco is this?

My opinion - I believe the CFPUA was set up deliberately to avoid being regulated by the state. I believe the board members that are County Commisioners and City Council Members, are there just to keep the system out of the state regulatory powers. Note here though, that just because the individuals are on the board, that does not mean they voted for the CFPUA to be formed. That assumption would be erronious. Furthermore, since the aforementioned board members who are on CFPUA's board, make less than a majority, it effectively ties the hands of the local municipalities, and their set up removes responsibility from the City and County. In a nutshell, I believe this was done DELIBERATELY, by finding or creating a loophole in the law. It might be legal (something I will continue to research), but the moral and ethical implications are suspect. Those who were party to such a manuever would never be individuals I would hope children would inspire to follow.

It might be an interesting side to note that I was told by a city employee, that the individual who basically ran the City of Wilmington Public Utility, is at CFPUA. She and I have spoken before, back in March or thereabout.

I welcome response from CFPUA on this matter.

And by the way, CFPUA could set up an inhouse collection agency on their own. I helped do that in a previous job; it can be done.

A man who will not stand up for something, will fall for anything. Unknown

Bill problems in the past 2 years?

Beside the other billing issues CFPUA has had in the past, there was a little commented on issue, that has finally been fixed, again dealing with the customers' billing notices.

Until recently, if you expected to look at your bill, and verify that CFPUA had received your payment - and posted it you your account, you would have to do the math. The location for that information was on the bill, but for some unknown reason, the software had not been set up to include the information. It might seem a minute detail, but for seniors and those who are visually challenged, requiring others to assist them with their monthly paperwork, it is a big issue. It also becomes an issue if the payment was accidently credited to the incorrect account, something that can happen with any company on occasion.

So, no Mr. Renzaglia, I would not agree with you. I will say a very much felt THANK YOU, for this problem being corrected though. Apparently you did listen to the customers on this issue.

A man who will not stand up for something, will fall for anything. Unknown

CFPUA board is weak and has no billing, rate, or IT expertise

This is a classic case of a board too weak in knowledge to recognize and remove incompetent staff. The billing problem was a CFPUA issue where the IT staff was not competent to review the work of an outside contractor and, apparently, sat back and assumed everything would work fine instead of actively quality controlling the process. Now this sad excuse for a board is trying to hire a rate consultant. Carry things forward to the article it appears that their base records are suspect since they are not sure what connections they actually have in place (even the most incompetent utilities usually get this part right).

I have some sympathy on the collections issue but it appears that the establishing agreements did not address delinquency and how the losses would be allocated for those that pre-dated the authority...another example of incompetence since this is on everyone's template when establishing an authority.

Oh well welcome to government entities in Wilmington and New Hanover County the Land of Government Incompetence.

Umm..

OBVIOUSLY..if he doesn't know CFPUA has problems...he IS PART of the problem...OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

7969

Kudos ! I agree; get rid of the problem and bring in some one that can "see". Just my $.02 worth, again.