Public administration

Small and rural public water and wastewater utilities in many nations are struggling with a variety of problems for which they lack the financial, material, and human resources needed to overcome those problems. Among the most pressing challenges facing these small utilities ax aging or inadequate infrastructure, difficulties in recruiting or retaining qualified staff, and little or no access to financial capital to meet emergencies or replace or upgrade facilities to meet important health requirements. Some may have found a partial solution to their problems: engaging in collaborative innovation with other utilities. A 2014 study of public organizations collaborating with external organizations revealed dramatic increases in all categories except changes in public attitudes. Increases over a ten-year period ranged from 28 percent to 65 percent of agencies included in the study to a low of a 2 percent gain in the number of agencies employing market incentives to improve their operations. Governance of a small water and wastewater utility near the college is in the hands of an unpaid elected board of three commissioners. The special district serves 532 customers in a rural nonfarming, residential community. All water utilities in your state have been required to install water meters at every resident’s connection to the system: water from one of the district’s two wells is reading high levels of natural arsenic; the utility’s 12-inch concrete sewer mains are sixty-five years old and beginning to disintegrate. Several somewhat smaller utilities nearby have been requesting a meeting to discuss ways to reduce operating expenses. Although unable to stop you from raising your rates, a group of customers has indicated they plan to fight any rate increase any way they can, including via a recall election. The public administration class at the local college has volunteered to plan and conduct a case study of how your utility is affected by and plans to overcome these difficulties. You have been assigned the task of preparing a proposal for the study your team will carry out for the utility. Source: Personal experience of the author.

  1. Where do you start with your research? 2. What can the utility do to improve its financial situation? 3. Do the district commissioners have to worry about the group of rate-increase opponents?

Sample Solution