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Monday, April 21, 2014

CUC still charging PSS high rate for water, wastewater
PSS projects over $2M in excess billing; files blanket dispute every month

Despite the passage of a law that lowered the water and wastewater rates of public schools, the Public School System claims it is still being charged the higher rates up to now.

PSS acting internal comptroller George Palican appealed to the Commonwealth Public Utilities Commission yesterday for its help in the matter.

Public Law 18-19, which became law on Sept. 24, 2013, reclassified the water and wastewater rates of public schools from “government” to “commercial” in a bid to save the system some money.

Palican shared yesterday how PSS worked hard to push this necessary legislation through, only to be disappointed that it is not being adhered to.

“The predicament we’re facing now: CUC continues to bill PSS at government rate even after the Sept. 24, 2013, enactment of the law. And because of this, PSS has no choice but to file a monthly blanket dispute with CUC,” Palican told CPUC members and CUC officials at yesterday’s commission hearing.

CUC executive director Alan Fletcher explained that CUC cannot just make changes to its current rates and structure without the CPUC’s approval. He revealed that, since the law’s passage, CUC had sought direction from the commission on the implementation of P.L. 18-19.

“We’re still waiting for that direction from the commission,” he said during yesterday’s public comment period.

CPUC chair Joseph Guerrero assured PSS officials yesterday that the commission will look into the matter and will notify parties when action is determined.

Palican said that PSS has been getting excessive billings for water and wastewater each month since October 2013. For that month alone, charges in excess of what is mandated by P.L. 18-19 reached $117,000. This amount, he said, represents 89 percent of the actual billing.

He said the system in now preparing to dispute the November and December billings.

Each month, he said, PSS records a minimum of 24 disputes for its water and wastewater bills.

“If this will continue, PSS projects that dispute would most likely exceed $2 million through fiscal year 2014,” disclosed Palican.

He said this excess billing is of great concern to PSS because it is a potential direct liability of the system.

He also shared the complicated process of going through the monthly dispute with CUC, citing the numerous documents that PSS has to provide with every dispute filing it submits.

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