With unhappiness over water quality running high, Ward Three City Council candidate Matthew Shoemaker is proposing a new way to track performance and satisfaction with the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Shoemaker wants the next Council to direct the PUC to develop simple and understandable benchmarks and a bi-monthly report card system to serve as a check on the PUC’s services.
“Although Ward Three has not been impacted by water issues to the same extent as other parts of the city, residents are steadily bringing up concerns about the PUC when I speak with them at their doors. Adopting a simplified report card would be a way to address some of these concerns,” said Shoemaker.
Shoemaker’s proposal would see a brief report prepared every two months to evaluate the PUC’s performance on critical measurements. He envisions building the report card around the following key factors:
· The number of complaints received about PUC services (grouped into water and electrical complaints respectively);
· The number of power outages (organized by cause) and total number of customers affected;
· The average time it took to restore power after an outage; and,
· The number of water main breaks (organized by cause) that occurred during the reporting period.
“I’ve contacted the PUC and they have confirmed that they already keep statistics on all of these measures and that it would not be difficult to compile them,” stated Shoemaker.
Right now, Shoemaker sees the need for a report card because of concern from the public that the water improvement plan may not be working. While he acknowledges that the PUC is working to improve its services and communication, Shoemaker senses that many residents are not being reassured by these efforts due to accumulated frustration over water quality issues. He believes the report card could help set understandable benchmarks for the PUC.
“Numbers are a more objective form of information. Looking at indicators and trends can help us understand if our utility services are improving, staying the same, or getting worse,” noted Shoemaker.
Shoemaker believes that the report card system would provide a meaningful way of evaluating how the PUC’s water improvement program is progressing. He feels that if the trend were to show a lack of improvement, that it could provide a signal to the PUC to examine other options.
“High quality services need to be provided in our city. Over the past few years, many PUC customers have been paying for a service that has been inconsistent and not meeting expectations, and that’s a big problem. Working to resolve the water issue needs to be a top priority for the next Council and all avenues should be explored to ensure that customers can rely on their water supply,” remarked Shoemaker.
“I realize that this may be a difficult issue to solve, but we have to continue to look for ways to move forward. The PUC needs to work with the next Council to find constructive approaches that will address the problems we have today and prevent similar ones from happening in the future. Developing this report card system would be a step in that direction,” concluded Shoemaker.