Communication with Elected Officials about Rate Increases: What Do the Experts Think?

By Clark Worth 

September 12, 2013 

 

Many families have trouble talking about one tough subject—the budget. Utilities are in the same situation. Talking about money can be uncomfortable.

 

The fact is most utilities don’t have enough money to sustain critical services and make needed infrastructure improvements. But if utilities ask for more money, that might be perceived as a sign of extravagant spending, mismanagement or lack of foresight. With economic conditions lagging and family budgets tight, it’s no wonder some utilities are shy about initiating discussion on their financial condition with elected officials. But there’s enough shared experience among utilities to pinpoint “what works”—and the Public Communications and Outreach Committee is bringing some of that experience to WEFTEC 2013.

 

On Tuesday, Oct. 8 from 1:30 pm to 5 pm, our session 425: Communicating With Elected Officials About Rate Increases to Support Major Infrastructure Improvements will provide attendees a few tips for communicating with elected officials about rate increases.

 

I am pleased to be moderating a panel discussion about how our elected leaders view rate increases called Rate Increases Through the Eyes of Policymakers, where a panel of seasoned policymakers and top managers share insights on the information they need to reach decisions: go/no go, when, how much. The distinguished panelists include: George Hawkins, General Manager, DC Water; Roy Rogers, Board of Directors, Clean Water Services; Julius Ciaccia, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and Adel Hagekhalil, Assistant Director, Bureau of Sanitation, City of Los Angeles.

 

It’s also important to note that policymakers are uniquely positioned to not only be the “deciders”, but also become the most effective and credible frontline “explainers” and “champions” for financial reforms. Every elected leader is a vital part of the communications team. They need to fully understand, and be ready to convey, their utility’s current and long-term financial picture. To that end our session features two great additional presentations.

 

At What Works (and What Doesn’t) When Communicating With Policymakers about Rate Increases, J. Michael Read, General Manager, Oak Lodge Sanitary District, Oak Grove, OR will discuss a "how to" guide for communicating with elected officials about rate increases. And at Are Your Rates Affordable? Your Policymakers Want to Know, Shawn Koorn, Associate Vice President, HDR Engineering Inc., Bellevue, WA, will highlight a few methods for determining affordability and ways to communicate results to policymakers.

 

Please join us for what promises to be a very helpful and thought-provoking session!

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Communication with Elected Officials about Rate Increases What Do the Experts Think? By Clark Worth  September 12, 2013    Many families have trouble talking about one tough subject—the budget. Utilities are in the same situation. Talking about money can be

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Communication with Elected Officials about Rate Increases: What Do the Experts Think?

 Permanent link

Communication with Elected Officials about Rate Increases: What Do the Experts Think?

By Clark Worth 

September 12, 2013 

 

Many families have trouble talking about one tough subject—the budget. Utilities are in the same situation. Talking about money can be uncomfortable.

 

The fact is most utilities don’t have enough money to sustain critical services and make needed infrastructure improvements. But if utilities ask for more money, that might be perceived as a sign of extravagant spending, mismanagement or lack of foresight. With economic conditions lagging and family budgets tight, it’s no wonder some utilities are shy about initiating discussion on their financial condition with elected officials. But there’s enough shared experience among utilities to pinpoint “what works”—and the Public Communications and Outreach Committee is bringing some of that experience to WEFTEC 2013.

 

On Tuesday, Oct. 8 from 1:30 pm to 5 pm, our session 425: Communicating With Elected Officials About Rate Increases to Support Major Infrastructure Improvements will provide attendees a few tips for communicating with elected officials about rate increases.

 

I am pleased to be moderating a panel discussion about how our elected leaders view rate increases called Rate Increases Through the Eyes of Policymakers, where a panel of seasoned policymakers and top managers share insights on the information they need to reach decisions: go/no go, when, how much. The distinguished panelists include: George Hawkins, General Manager, DC Water; Roy Rogers, Board of Directors, Clean Water Services; Julius Ciaccia, Executive Director, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, and Adel Hagekhalil, Assistant Director, Bureau of Sanitation, City of Los Angeles.

 

It’s also important to note that policymakers are uniquely positioned to not only be the “deciders”, but also become the most effective and credible frontline “explainers” and “champions” for financial reforms. Every elected leader is a vital part of the communications team. They need to fully understand, and be ready to convey, their utility’s current and long-term financial picture. To that end our session features two great additional presentations.

 

At What Works (and What Doesn’t) When Communicating With Policymakers about Rate Increases, J. Michael Read, General Manager, Oak Lodge Sanitary District, Oak Grove, OR will discuss a "how to" guide for communicating with elected officials about rate increases. And at Are Your Rates Affordable? Your Policymakers Want to Know, Shawn Koorn, Associate Vice President, HDR Engineering Inc., Bellevue, WA, will highlight a few methods for determining affordability and ways to communicate results to policymakers.

 

Please join us for what promises to be a very helpful and thought-provoking session!

Posted by Blaine Menelik at 09/12/2013 12:52:56 PM | 


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Clark Worth 

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Clark Worth

Clark Worth is principal of Barney & Worth, Inc. in Portland, Oregon. His company specializes in planning and communications for water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities. Clark began his professional career working for two Oregon Governors and also managed development projects and a department for the City of Portland before he started his 30-year consultancy. His current passion is assisting utilities in communicating with policymakers and customers about water infrastructure needs and costs. Water is worth it! 


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