After nearly a year and a half of analysis, Cape Charles is ready to move to the next phase of possibly selling off water and wastewater utilities.
Nearly 18 months ago, the town was approached by a private utility company that proposed to purchase the town’s utilities. The possible acquisition was made possible through the state procurement process that is outlined in the Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure Act, or PPEA.
The Town was required to advertise the proposed sale and did receive a second bid.
Town Council along with its consultants held an executive session to interview both companies, and it was determined that both firms would be legitimate providers.
Town Council must now select one of these companies to move on to the next phase of the evaluation. The Council is scheduled to make this choice at an open special meeting on January 13, 2022. Choosing a firm does not commit the town to actually sell the utilities.
Once Town Council selects a company to move forward, Executive Sessions to protect proprietary information will no longer be needed and the process will become more public. According to Town Manager Hozey, the town plans to have a ‘robust’ dialog with the community regarding the sale.
With the PPEA process entering its latter stages, the Mirror posed a few questions to the Town, but due to the still proprietary nature, they were unable to provide a response at this time. However, for citizens the questions may be a good starting point:
1. What is really the big benefit of selling the services?
2. Will rates be higher or lower under the PPEA?
3. Was staffing one of the drivers for moving in this direction (is the Town having trouble finding, interviewing, and keeping staff)?
4. Will the town remain in control of the plant’s expansion decisions? That is, can the new operators decide to run lines out to entities on RT. 13?
5. Were there any fines issued to the wastewater plant this year?
6. If the wastewater plant needs to be expanded to meet excess demands resulting in Bay Creek’s expansion, who will manage the requirements set forth by Law No. 27, the Annexation Agreement between the Town and Bay Creek?
More material will be made available by the Town, and the public information process should begin in mid-February.