LETTER: Public management more efficient?

In the March 31 edition of The News, there is an open letter from our mayor and council to the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) B.C. Regional Office.

CUPE – or anyone reading the city’s letter – is supposed to feel assured because “… only the design of the treatment plant, the financing for the project, the building of the facilities and the operation and maintenance of the plant would be available as opportunities for private business partners.”

However, “only, etc.” isn’t quite the whole story. I was in the audience the afternoon Deloitte presented to council.  Transmission pipes are also on the table – very expensive transmission pipes that have to cross the Fraser to get water to Abbotsford.

As for the financing, even with a private partner, taxpayers will have the privilege of providing the bulk of the funds required. That’s what the referendum in November is all about.

Back to the open letter.  Referring to the Abbotsford Mission Water Sewer Commission, we read: “The AMWSC will closely oversee the operation of the plant …”

Interesting switch from “would” to “will” – the former allowing for some flexibility in negotiations, the latter sounding much more like a done deal.

Oh yes, two very interesting figures surfaced during the Deloitte presentation.

If our city operated the treatment plant, the annual cost would be $1,305,883.

The annual cost of a P3 operating the plant would be $2,092,392.  Both figures are in today’s dollars.

Are we being told that public management can be more fiscally efficient than private control?

So it appears – the difference being almost 20 million dollars over a 25-year contract.

Gee, that sounds like the shareholders of a private company would actually want to make a profit on our water.

Go figure.


Regina Dalton