Gary Libby's Questionnaire
Each candidate answered our own personalized League-style questionnaire.
How many years have you lived in Maine?: 55 of my 60 years
What experiences, motivations, and leadership styles will make you an effective Water Trustee?:
13 years experience as a Water District Trustee. I'm motivated by a desire to render a public service. I have analytical ability.
If elected, what would your top three priorities be? How do they affect young people in Portland?:
1. Implement the capital investment policy to replace Portland's water pipe infrastructure. Portland's water pipes on the peninsula are mostly 100+ years old and most of Portland's pipes off the peninsula are 75+ years old. A planned and consistently implemented water infrastructure renewal will provide Portland's young people with a lifetime's clean water. 2. Protect tenants against water shutoffs when landlords fail to pay their water and/or sewer bills. 3. Attempt to reduce the Portland Water District's energy consumption and to stydy the possibility of of generating electricty by installing turbines in the large transmission pipes that convey water fro Sebago lake to Portland.
Please share one positive change you have seen in Portland over the last year.:
The quality and diversity of Portland's restaurants has increased to the exyent that the Food Network nominated Portland as one of the three best cities in the USA for restaurants.
Please share one frustrating change you have seen in Portland over the last year.:
The problems that the Portland School Committee has had with its budget overruns. The PWD Board of Trustees has been involved with the District's budget process. Our finance staff is excellent. Our audits consistently show no problems and our annual financial report has won awards for governmental financial reports for approximately 10 years in a row.
What competing responsibilities do you have: professionally and personally?:
Please evaluate the 2006 rate structure implemented by the Water District. Both for Residential AND Commercial/Industrial.:
I beleive the 2006 rate structure was a good compromise and a beginning step toward having all customers paying their cost of service with no group of users subsidizing any other group. The rate structure existing before 2006 had been in place for decades and had not considered cost of service. the first cost of service studies were done in the early 1990s when the PWD had its last rate increase case before the Public Utilities Commission. Those cost of service studies focused primarily on the cost of serving customers in the cities (Portland, South Portland and Westbrook) as contrasted with the cost of serving customers in the towns. There was a 15% difference between the lower city rate and the higher town rate. That differential has been eliminated. The early cost of service studies didn't focus on the cost of serving different groups of customers in a unified city/town rate structure.
To eliminate the subsidies found to exist among various groups of customers all at once would create a large rate shock to commercial/industrial users without resulting in a significant rate reduction to the residential customers.
What are your thoughts of PWD rate structures? Do you believe in a progressive or a regressive rate structure?:
I believe in a progressive rate structure.
What is your position on residential users subsidizing industrial and commercial users?:
Ideally, all customers should pay the cost of serving them with no group of customers being subsidized by aanother group of customers. The historic rate structure under which residential customers have subsidized commercial/industrial customers needs to be eliminated. The issue is over the speed at which the subsidies are decreased and eliminated.
What do you think about the Water Trustee pushing the policy that automatically qualifies an individual for low income water rates if they're already qualified for the CMP low income rate? Why?:
I supported a "lifeline" type program to provide lower rates to low income customers. To do so there had to be a qualifying standard and a group to establish and determine eligibility for the program. The use of the CMP standards implemented by PROP seemed a reasonable way to go. The PWD should not take on the job a designing and implementing its own policy. To do so would take too much time and cost too much.
What is your take on businesses threatening to leave Portland if water rate structures increase?:
No businesses threatened to leave Portland if the water rate structure was changed to reduce the subsidy by residential customers of commercial/industrial customers. Several businesses did testify that a sudden, large increase in the commercial/industrial rate structure would adversely affect their business. Barber Foods, for example, has been studying the cost of doing business here in Portland with the cost of doing business in the southern US, such as Georgia. Their costs for transportation, power, taxes and other basic business costs seem to be lower in other areas. The company has a long and mutually beneficial relationship to Portland and wants to stay here even though the cost of doing business here may be higher than in other places. That commitment, however, is not unlimited. Gus Barber, the founder of Barber Foods, was an immigrant himself. The company provides work for hundreds of recent immigrants and provides English language and other classes for those em!
ployees. If Barber Foods decided to take advantage of lower costs of doing business elsewher, those entry level, largely immigrant filled jobs would disappear. The cost of increased taxes required to provide welfare and social services to Barber Foods' employees would increase imposing costs on Portland's taxpayers which would exceed the benefits of a rate reduction to residential users of less than a dollar a month.
One of the Water District's stated goals is to make the organization more environmentally friendly. If elected, what steps would you take to reach this goal?:
Maintain the public's access to the Sebago Lake Land Reserve established in 2005 allowing use of certain water resource protection land near Sebago Lake in Standish and in the Chaffin Pond park in Windham which is leased by the PWD to the Town of Windham and available to everyone.
Conducting a study to see if it's possible to generate some electrical energy by installing turbines in the 48" and 60" pipes which bring water to Portland from Sebago Lake falling more than 250' along the way.
What is your stand on the Sebago Lake debate: do we increase the percentage of the lake for recreation or do we increase the percantage protected as a water source? Why?:
I supported adoption of the PWD's "White Paper" that established a goal of restricting or eliminating recreational uses of the "Lower Bay" of Sebago Lake. The Lower Bay is about 10% of Sebago Lake's surface and critical to protecting the region's water supply.
What do you think about the Water District selling access to private companies? What are your thoughts about letting other municipalities tap into Sebago?:
I would not support selling access to private companies. I support installing connections with water systems that abut the PWD's service area so that water can be supplied in emergencies. I am open to the possibility of providing Sebago Lake water to neighboring water systems with less productive and safe supplies on a wholesale basis.
What is your position on the Water District contracting with an outside insurance company to offer services like the 2006 mailing around water line breaks?:
I supported contracting with the outside insurance company which provides insurance against water line breaks. I will support extending that program to allow customers to avail themselves of insurance against the costs of sewer line breaks.
What steps would you take to reduce the discharge of wastewater into Casco Bay from our East End Sewer Plant?:
I assume you're asking about untreated waste water. The primary responsibility for doing that rests with the City of Portland and not the PWD. the City of Portland needs to speed up its efforts to separate storm water from sanitary sewer flow and to eliminate the combined sewer overflows (CSOs)throughout the city. The Maine DEP has been disappointed with the city's efforts in this area for years. Once the storm and sanitary sewers have been separated and the CSOs eliminated the East End Waste Watere Treatment Plant won't be overwhelmed by the sudden surge of storm water into the plant requiring the PWD to bypass all but primary treatment. Once the sewers are separated and the CSOs eliminated all waste water should be fully treated before being discharged.