St. Louis Water Rates
The St. Louis “Post” endorses the proposition of Commissioner Wall as to a reduction of the rate to manufacturers as follows: Water Commissioner Wall says that a rate of 6 cents per 1,000 gallons can be made to manufacturers without an increase of rates to the general consumer. Comptroller Player says that it cannot be done; that even the 8-cent rate is less than cost, and he cites a provision of the charter which requires that rates shall “produce revenue sufficient at least to pay the running expenses of the Water Department and the interest on all such bonds (water works bonds) and renewals.” The outstanding water works bonds, according to the last report of the comptroller, amount to $2,024,000, on which an annual interest of $101,722 is paid. From the same authority the cost of maintenance and operation of the water works, including “new work and special purposes’ for the fiscal year 1915, was $1,492,275.16, amounting with interest to $1,593,997.16. This is an average cost, including interest, of $4,367 per day. The average daily consumption of water during the year was 85,000,000 gallons, and the average cost per thousand gallons was therefore 5.1 cents. The net revenue from the Water Department for the year, after setting aside the interest on the bonds and sinking fund, amounting together to $401,722.50, was $1,905,009. It would seem from these figures that a 6-ccnt rate would be ample to cover the cost of maintenance and operation and the interest on the bonds, without an increase of rates to the general consumer, notwithstanding the fact that the cost of distribution to residences is relatively greater than to meter consumers. But aside from that, there is the question of the city’s material interests, its advancement and its prosperity, to be considered. It should be possible, it should be made possible, to put our manufacturers on an equal plane with the manufacturers of competing cities. There should be no handicaps to St. Louis business. Nor should the element of common justice be overlooked. Under the present system the largest consumers are paying the highest rates, which is a reversal of business rules. As a contributor to this page pointed out yesterday, the meter users constitute but 7 per cent. of the consumers, yet they pay 38 per cent. of the total revenue. Is this right?