Minneapolis Water Department

Minneapolis Water Department

The council water committee of Minneapolis, Minn., plans the complete reorganization of the city water department which will place that branch of the city government on a selfsustaining basis, and has directed its chairman, Alderman Ortquist, to complete a study of the present workings of the department so that a new plan may be adopted. Under the new system, every user of city water will have to pay for the service at the rate of 8 cents per 1,000 gallons. All city departments will be served either at this rate or at the half-rate as before, but no water will be given away free as is now done. Not only will the fire department be charged with whatever water is used during the year in extinguishing fires, but the wards will be expected to pay for water used in street sprinkling and flushing. According to a detailed report prepared by City Engineer F. W. Cappelen, the revenue of the water Works department in 1913 amounted to $500,621.62, while the total operating expense for the same year was only $273,502.37, leaving a net profit for that year of $277,119.25. Under the present system, all of this profit was turned into the city’s general funds to be used for paying interest on the bonded debt and for other expenses. Aside from this revenue, the water furnished free and at half price, would have netted $83,527.43 had the full charge been made. At the regular rate the fire department would have had a water bill in 1913 of $158,579.12. This latter was furnished without cost for fire extinguishing purposes. Had all water distributed in 1913 been paid for at the regular rate, the department would have had an actual operating profit of $469,225.80. “There are few people in Minneapolis who believe that the city water works department is operating at a profit,” Mr. Cappelen said, in discussing his report, “but it is true, nevertheless. The department has gone on year after year, always showing a good balance at the close of a year’s business. But the present system is not fair to this department. It pays much more into the treasury every year than it gets back. At present the department turns into the treasury about $227,000 yearly and a portion of this amount is used for paying the interest on outstanding bonds. At present this total is $2,650,000 and the yearly interest is $159,000. After this amount is spent there is still a balance of about $70,000 from which the department gets no benefit. I believe the water works department should be on a selfsustaining basis.”

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