Water and Sewer Financial and Rate Consulting
RFC originally assisted Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities (Utilities) in developing a water and sewer financial planning and rate model and related user manual. The rate model has been used to update rates and assist with Utilities’ financial planning. The model focused on providing long-term rates, management information, and graphic representations of model output. Since the original model development, RFC has provided assistance in updating and refining the rate model on an annual basis. More recently, RFC completed a comprehensive revision to the methodology used to calculate certain industrial waste charges. As part of this project, RFC examined many different approaches, calculated the costs and impacts of implementing a new approach, and participated in meetings with Utilities’ Advisory Council and the public to discuss the new recommended approach. Additionally, RFC has assisted Utilities in performing risk analysis on its revenue stream. Following years of abnormally dry weather, the Charlotte area has received above average rainfall. As a result, revenues have declined even though the number of customers has continued to increase. RFC utilized risk analysis techniques to provide insight to Utilities which helped staff develop appropriate estimates of water and sewer billable units and more robust risk contingency plans.
For nearly 20 years, several members of our Project Team have supported Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services. The City implemented the first utility in North Carolina, and this was soon followed by the establishment of a countywide storm water enterprise, which now serves all of the jurisdictions in Mecklenburg County. RFC team members have completed a variety of projects for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Storm Water Services including recent projects to explore modifications to the current residential tiering scheme and to the fee credits program (to include residential credits and incentives). Changes to the credits program recommended during the study are now being implemented.
In 2011, as the first stage of a strategic planning initiative, the team conducted an organizational and business process improvement study for the program’s storm water billing, collections, and customer services functions. Driven by concerns over customer service experience, potential collections issues, and a desire for process improvement, the study documented current processes through extensive interviews with staff in 11 departments that perform these functions. The current processes were documented, partly serving as a means of educating the disparate staff groups that are working together, and recommended changes to processes and organizational structure were recommended. The current processes involved assessment of the billing system processes and ecosystem, identifying opportunities for improvement that would be available during a billing system upgrade, and ones that would need to occur outside of the upgrade process. Many of our recommendations have now been implemented, the most extensive of which was a reorganization of the stormwater billing and customer service function into a single area, which involved transferring staff from the City to the County organization. CMSWS is experiencing improvements in storm water billing as a result of the implemented recommendations.
As a subcontractor to another firm, and at the request of the client, RFC has evaluated the CMSWS rate structure and the possibilities for rate structures that differentiate among the county’s watersheds. RFC evaluated the feasibility of issuing bonds for planned capital improvements to reduce flooding and improve water quality.