Monday, March 11, 2013 | 4:50 p.m.
The Southern Nevada Water Authority doesn’t want the “oversight” that Sen. Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, is proposing for the public utility.
Roberson introduced a bill Monday that puts the SNWA under the authority of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada, a move that he says increases transparency and accountability to the people.
The water authority, however, issued a statement Monday saying the bill does just the opposite.
“The SNWA believes that decisions about the delivery and pricing of water to citizens and businesses in Nevada are best made by local elected officials, for whom these decisions also apply,” said Scott Huntley, spokesman for the water authority. “Keeping these decisions at the local level allows the greatest opportunity for those impacted by the decisions to have a voice in them. It is interesting that this legislation only applies to water agencies in Southern Nevada.”
Pat Mulroy, SNWA general manager, told legislators last week that 29 of 30 elected officials voted for an infrastructure surcharge in 2012.
Roberson’s bill would require the SNWA to obtain approval from the Public Utilities Commission, a three-member board appointed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, for any water rate increase on business or commercial customers of the utility.
The bill also would require the Public Utilities Commission to appoint a hearing officer to investigate the need for a proposed rate increase and issue a decision approving or declining the rate increase.
“Many in the Southern Nevada community believe the process failed to allow an adequate opportunity for public input,” Roberson said in a statement. “Southern Nevada residents and businesses will likely face future significant rate increases. This legislation will ensure that those rate increases occur in as fair and equitable manner as possible in a completely open process.”
Mulroy testified this past week that there was “massive public outreach” about the rate increases in 2012.
Roberson’s bill has support from Sens. David Parks, D-Las Vegas; Pete Goicoechea, R-Eureka; Mark Manendo, D-Las Vegas; Scott Hammond, R-Las Vegas; Barbara Cegavske, R-Las Vegas; James Settelmeyer, R-Minden; Joyce Woodhouse, D-Henderson; Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City; and Mark Hutchinson, R-Las Vegas.