Raftelis was engaged by the City of Jackson (City) to assist the City with several tasks, the goals of which were to stabilize the Public Works Department (Department), sustain levels of service and core functions, and provide sound financial consulting on initiatives that will allow the Department to thrive. The tasks that were completed included:
Strategy Sessions – Raftelis facilitated multiple strategy sessions with City staff to identify and prioritize long-term financial planning issues/projects that have significant fiscal impacts to the Department. Raftelis also assisted in determining the best course of action to allow the Department in achieving its goals.
Revenues Sufficiency and Rate Structure Analysis – Raftelis developed a financial planning model to compare the projected revenues to the revenue requirements over a five-year period and determine the necessary rates to meet revenue requirements and debt service coverage requirements. Raftelis also used this model to identify alternative rate structures but, due to the billing system conversion, it was determined that the rate structure should not be modified at this time.
Billing System Data Review – The first objective of this task was to acquire utility billing system data from the City and review it to identify patterns in billing and collections that may explain recent reductions in collections. The second phase of the work was to assess current billing processes to identify potential root causes of the problem and develop solutions. A second objective of this task was to create a static copy of data in the existing billing system prior to the conversion to the new billing system and to provide support for the conversion of the billing system.
Affordability Analysis – Raftelis determined the affordability of rates for customers at various income levels and developed a map to identify the areas of the City which may have more affordability challenges. Raftelis also identified the different types of affordability programs available to assist in providing affordability relief.
Contract Audit and Management Strategy – The City entered into an agreement with a company to make various improvements to the water and wastewater systems to enhance revenues and decrease expenses. The contract involves significant capital investment by the City. Raftelis assisted the City to develop a plan to audit the contract to ensure the contract can be effectively managed. Raftelis also assisted the City in developing a business plan to realize the revenues enhancements and operational savings from the new technology resulting from the contract.
Master Plan Development – Raftelis assisted the City in prioritizing capital projects so that a capital improvement plan could be developed, along with funding sources that would support the projects.
Outside-City Billing Refunds – Due to a nuance in the rate structure and billing system, there was concern that certain customers that reside outside the City limits were being charged incorrect rates. For this subset of customers, their rates are overseen by the Mississippi Public Service Commission (MPSC) and the City had raised the rates consistent with other customers without gaining approval from the MPSC. Raftelis assisted in identifying the customers impacted, the overpayment for each customer, and remedies to rectify the overpayment.