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Fact Sheet:   Public ownership of the Indianapolis Water Company
Bart Peterson, Mayor of Indianapolis

Lower rates Local control

Public ownership of the
Indianapolis Water Company

Fact Sheet

  • Quality of life. Drinkable water is the most precious commodity on Earth and is key to the quality of life in Indianapolis. It only makes sense for the Indianapolis community to maintain control of this resource to the benefit all citizens and businesses.
  • Low, reasonable rates. The city can operate the Indianapolis Water Company (IWC) and maintain low, reasonable rates. It can do so for three reasons:
  • Not responsible to private investors. Any outside firm that purchased IWC would probably have had to raise rates substantially to recoup its investment. 
  • No state or federal taxes. A municipally -owned water company will not pay state and federal income taxes.
  • Less expensive operating costs. A municipally owned water company will have lower operating costs because it can borrow money for capital improvements at a much lower interest rate than a private owner.
  • Local control. City ownership of IWC will keep its headquarters in Indianapolis and ensure that all its operating decisions would be made locally. It also means better cooperation between the central Indiana communities that share water resources. The city will also keep the all-important customer service and repair functions right here in central Indiana. 
  • City ownership, private management. The city will hire experienced professional managers to operate the water company efficiently, just as former Mayor Stephen Goldsmith did with the city’s wastewater treatment facilities. This effort does not represent a government takeover or an attempt at “reverse privatization.”
  • Bipartisan support. The city’s plan enjoys support across party lines from Mayor Bart Peterson (D), City-County Council President Dr. Beurt SerVaas (R), Majority Leader Dr. Phillip Borst (R) and Minority Leader Dr. Rozelle Boyd (D). The Council passed a measure, 26-0, authorizing action.
  • More competitive businesses. An increase in water rates would negatively affect all Indianapolis businesses, forcing them to pass it along to consumers in the form of higher prices for goods and services. Lower water rates ensure the continued competitiveness of businesses by helping to keep their operating costs low.
  • Better for economic development. Affordable water rates can be big selling point when attracting businesses looking to relocate to or expand in central Indiana. Local control would also mean that water company management would be more sensitive to operating costs, potential rate hikes, service disruptions or expansion opportunities. All these issues are critical to attracting new businesses.
  • No loss of local property tax revenue. A municipal water company will continue to pay the same amount (in the form of a payment in lieu of taxes) that IWC pays to local entities that receive property tax revenues. This way, the city, schools and surrounding communities will not lose the revenue that helps fund so many vital community, educational and neighborhood functions.
  • State-regulated water rates. Contrary to many public statements, the City-County Council will not be involved in setting water rates. Rates will continue to be regulated by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission and the state Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor, just as they are now.
  • Continuing regional partnerships. Existing state utility laws give the city several options to create a regional water system that would continue the positive relationships enjoyed today among IWC communities – such as Carmel, Fishers and Zionsville. 
  • Municipal ownership common in the U.S. Indianapolis is the largest city in the nation that does not have a municipally-owned water company. This means that all major cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Miami and Atlanta, have city-owned water companies. Approximately 85 percent of U.S. residents are served by community water systems that are municipally -owned and operated.


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