It appears that I had not accurately described the potential scope of the City of Milwaukee Comptroller's proposal, and now ongoing study, to lease assets of the city's Water Works to private operators.
The Comptroller is studying whether to recommend approval of a 99-year lease to private operators of city water utility assets to create a trust fund that could supply revenue directly to the city's general fund.
In this posting - - based on my reading of the Comptroller's request for proposals due April 9th - - I had said what was up for potential leasing was the system's management in an arrangement similar to that now in place at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.
After some more analysis on my part, I began to conclude that I might have been underestimating the extent of the assets that could be leased, so I sent an email on April 22nd for clarification to officials at the Comptroller's Office, including to Comptroller W. Martin (Wally) Morics, a city-wide elected official.
Here is the email I sent, and then text of a letter I received today in response.
"Just trying to get a lay explanation of the assets that could be leased: Is this the management of the utility, a la the MMSD's contract with its current operator, or is this [leasing] of the actual physical assets of the utility - - treatment plants, pipes, pumps, infrastructure, billing services, etc?"By letter April 27th, Morics' response does not rule out the broader leasing of assets I asked about in my email.
"Dear Mr. Rowen:
This letter is in response to your email of April 22nd to Wally Morics and Richard Li regarding questions surrounding the analysis of a potential City Water Works Public Private Partnership. The Comptroller's Office has received 17 proposals in response to the Water PPP Request for Proposal. We are in the process of conducting a detailed review of each proposal. Regarding your questions about the specific water facilities/assets involved and the related contractual arrangements, these are matters yet to be decided but within the scope of the analysis we are about to undertake. Any public information will be promptly posted on the Comptroller's Office page of the City of Milwaukee website."
So asset leasing beyond management is within the scope of the review, though no decisions or recommendations have been made - - action s that would need the approval of a majority of the Common Council, and the Mayor.