WG4 May 3 2011 Minutes

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Water Infrastructure Finance Commission
Working Group Four

State and Federal Finance and Investment Practices

Approved Minutes:  May 3, 2011

In a meeting duly posted, Working Group Four (State and Federal Finance and Investment Practices) convened at 2 pm in the fourth floor conference room at the State House.

Members Attending:  David Riedell, Philip L. Jassett, Martin Pillsbury, Paul Niedzwiecki, Peter Shelley

Brendan Jarboe, Bruce Maki (Who Decides), Nathaniel Keenan (WPAT), Mike Domenica, David Cole, Bob Ciolek, Marianne Connolly (MWRA) John Clarkeson (EEA), Representative Paul Schmid.

Mr. Pillsbury chaired the meeting.  He welcomed visitors and members and indicated that the primary purpose of the meeting was to help refine ideas in “the Blue Act”.

There was a ranging discussion of various aspects of the “Blue Act” proposal.   Some of the topics discussed include:

Mike Domenica is a guest who has a background in engineering, and the NAQA national trust fund.  He feels that local political bodies are often weak and may be unable to muster the will to raise rates to cover full costs of service.  But there has to be some local share.

Comprehensive planning is critical.  One problem is the “silo” effect of various funding sources and therefore of various planning efforts.

There is a difference between wants and needs for communities.  We need a metric to weigh the relative need of proposals.  DEP and SRF do have a metric/formula to evaluate needs.

Do we view the Mil charge as optional?  Mr. Pillsbury stated no, the mil would be charge on all rates across the state, but towns would have to qualify (opt in) in order to benefit from the fund.

It was noted that MWRA communities and large regional systems make up a significant part of the total served population.  This should be taken into account.

How much should be charged?  Should we start out with a charge of approximately 3 mil, knowing that the political process may reduce the number?  Should the amount change over time?

Should commercial properties be covered?  Yes.

How about industrial and agricultural?

How do we treat towns that do not currently have a water or sewer rate?  Could they pay in to the system in another manner?  Should we use a local property tax contribution perhaps?  Should they be eligible for the grants or funding made available through this program?

We need to acknowledge that towns without water or sewer are facing different types of challenges than those with existing systems.

Could we use the DEP intended use funding process as a model?

What are the pros and cons of grants versus loans?

Should regionalization be required in order to benefit from the program?

Can the money that is generated through the Blue Act be used to cover operation and maintenance?  This is a real need.

There is also need for assistance in planning, energy efficiency, alternative analysis, and other topics.

Watersheds planning would also be welcome assistance.

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