State Rep. Kurt Heise today issued the following comments regarding Detroit Emergency Financial Manager Kevyn Orr’s plan to create a new regional authority to operate the Detroit Water & Sewer Department (DWSD):
“I have read Mr. Orr’s proposal for a new DWSD Authority and it confirms what I have been saying for years – that the DWSD system needs fundamental reform, transparency, and restructuring, and that a regional authority is the best way to do that,” said Heise, R-Plymouth. “Unfortunately, the plan Mr. Orr is endorsing is essentially the same plan floated by Matt Schenk and the City of Detroit back in March of 2013, the same one rejected by Judge Cox as being financially speculative.”
Orr suggested a financial plan that would transfer assets of the DWSD to a regional authority in order to allow the city of Detroit to refinance the debt they owe on the utility.
“It’s too early to tell if the financial assumptions and paybacks to the city from this new entity will really work as promised,” Heise said. “I’m also concerned about the governance structure, which is largely unchanged from the current DWSD board.
“I have introduced House Bill 4790 that expands the DWSD board, making it more diverse, inclusive, and accountable to the taxpayers.”
HB 4790 would create a regional water and sewer authority governance board that is larger and more inclusive than the one created by Judge Cox by court order in 2011.
The bill is currently in the House committee on Natural Resources.