"Towns Sell Their Public Water Systems — And Come To Regret It"

"LAKE STATION, Ind. — This hard-luck town just south of Chicago is weighing a decision confronting many small and midsize cities with shrinking populations and chronic budget deficits: whether to sell the public water system to a for-profit corporation.

Lake Station desperately needs the cash. Once solidly middle-class, the town of 12,000 has suffered from cutbacks at nearby steel mills, statewide caps on property taxes, and debt incurred to build a pricey new City Hall.

Selling the water system would erase $11 million in utility debt and leave the city with a $9 million windfall. But the deal does not fund any of the water system’s $4 million in overdue repairs, costs that will be passed along through higher rates. Customers usually pay more for water after private companies take over."

Elizabeth Douglass reports for the Washington Post July 8, 2017.

Source: Washington Post, 07/10/2017