PSB unanimously rejects idea of new fee from the city

City Council had discussed increasing, adding fees to EPWU to generate more revenue

EL PASO, Texas - The Public Service Board comes out against the city's proposal to collect more money from El Paso Water Utilities.

This, after the city floated the idea of increasing fees to the utility as a way to generate more money.

The city of El Paso is in the midst of budget discussions.

The board met Friday afternoon during a special meeting.

After a closed door discussion that lasted for an hour, the board unanimously approved a resolution asking El Paso's city council to avoid issuing new fees to the utility.

Mayor Oscar Leeser is a part of the seven-member Public Service Board and abstained from the vote.

"We, in our opinion, believe that a charge to the utility is not an appropriate way to deal with the budget problems," PSB chair Richard Schoephoerster told ABC-7, adding, "It'll cause an extra burden to our rate payers as we are trying to provide services to the city that it needs."

Schoephoerster said EPWU already pays the city a franchise fee of 10 percent of the utility's annual revenue.

"10% is about $11 milllion," he explained. "So, it's not an insignificant amount. It's a good amount. We believe it's an appropriate amount for the city to be charging us."

When asked whether the resolution will carry weight with the city council, Leeser told ABC-7, "The city council will look at it because we always do welcome opinion, the public opinion. ... Council always respects the opinion of all the people."

The city council will discuss the water utility fee proposal during budget workshop Monday afternoon.

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