What’s Privatization?

City staff are proposing to transfer the city’s utility services to a corporation outside of the local government – in partnership with a for-profit company. This plan would restructure city utilities by changing who governs the system and by adding profit to the equation. Public utilities should remain governed directly by the city, within the municipality itself, because privatized systems result in higher rates, reduced service, and less local control.


A public utility system is one governed by the city, within the municipality itself. This structure puts our city’s representatives in direct control and oversight of the system. It keeps decisions local and democratic. It keeps things simple in terms of governance and operational models. It ensures that elected representatives have ultimate say on rates. And it saves money, which helps keep rates as low as possible. 


A privatized system transfers part or all of a public system to an entity not within the municipality itself. A for-profit privatized utility system (partial or total) adds profit and corporate control to the equation. This reduces local control, weakens the role of elected city councils, and raises prices. The proposal by city staff will likely result in higher fees, higher costs, and reduced local control over the city’s water and sewer system.