Columbus Water Works

Georgia

RFC was engaged by the Columbus Water Works (CWW) to conduct a multi-phase project involving a financial management systems evaluation, cost of service analysis, block rate design, contract rate analysis, and financial reporting system review.  The project’s aim was to develop and implement equitable yet understandable cost-based rate structures for both inside city and contract customers.  The task was complicated by the recent departure of several large contract and wholesale customers and major looming capital needs. In addition to the core project scope, RFC performed analyses of numerous alternative-pricing schemes for providing negotiated water and sewer service to the Army base of Fort Benning.

The cost of service and rate design used a detailed customer class and bill frequency analysis to evaluate a variety of rate restructuring approaches.  The study used a five- to 10-year planning horizon that incorporated long-term capital planning needs, debt funding assumptions, operating cost projections, and demand projections.  Fund balance tracking mechanisms were established to ensure the availability of adequate funds for capital needs, operating capital, and rate smoothing in future years.  Sensitivity analysis was developed to demonstrate the financial consequences of maintaining the status quo. Comprehensive presentation packages used to persuade Board members of the need for a five-year program of rate increases under the new rate structure.  The Board voted on and agreed to the five-year program as recommended by RFC and CWW staff.

RFC assisted the Columbus Water Works (CWW) in development of 50-year contract pricing for the acquisition and operation of water and wastewater systems at Fort Benning, Georgia.  CWW proposed to assume responsibility for purchase, capital maintenance, expansion, and operation of the systems.  RFC assisted CWW with pricing development used in the acquisition proposal.  Pricing was developed with the intention of recovering the full cost of the system without impacting the financial position of CWW’s retail customer service.  CWW assumed ownership control of the Fort Benning systems after lengthy negotiations.  In 2008, RFC assisted CWW with updates to contract pricing associated with Base Reauthorization and Closure (BRAC) efforts which significantly expanded the Fort Benning mission.  Currently, Fort Benning uses approximately ten million gallons of water and wastewater services daily.

RFC has been assisting Columbus Water Works on rate issues since 2001.