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Coates Spring/Summer 2008

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T he drought throughout North Carolina and the Southeast has caused many local water and wastewater utilities to reexamine the way they charge for water and wastewater services. Utilities facing significant revenue shortfalls due to water conservation measures are realizing that some type of rate in- crease will be essential in order to maintain their utility's fiscal health. Other utilities faced with severe supply problems are looking to their rate structures as another tool to help promote water conservation. Any effort to modify rates should be founded on a careful study of a utility's revenue needs and customer base; however, most utilities also engage in a compara- tive analysis of other utilities' rates as part of their rate modification process. Utilities oen collect rate information from other utilities to prepare a comparative summary. Comparative information can be useful, but it also can be dangerous if taken out of context and used inappropriately. For ex- ample, there may be "peer pressure" to keep rates lower than necessary simply because a quickly prepared table of neighboring utility rates shows other utilities with lower rates. e School of Government's Environ- mental Finance Center (EFC) works with communities to assure they have the financial C oates C onnection Vo l . 7 No. 1 Sp r i ng / Su m m e r 2 0 0 8 Highlights in this issue 2 Message from the Dean 3 Foundation Board Members 6 Essentials of Municipal Government 8 LGFCU Scholarship Awards 9 New Faculty Members 10 Municipal and County Administration Graduates 12 Friends and Regional Councils Update A NE w TOOl FOr wATEr S ySTEm FiNANCiAl Pl ANNiNG ANd r ATE SETTiNG by Jeff Hughes, Director, Environmental Finance Center (continued on next page) S c h o o l o f G o v e r n m e n t , U N C - C h a p e l H i l l The Environmental Finance Center (EFC) is led by Jeff Hughes (pictured above, third from right). Other EFC staff members are (left to right) Glenn Barnes, Jackie Ashley, Shadi Eskaf, Andrew Westbrook, and Mary Tiger. The rates dashboard allows communities to compare and analyze user rates for water and wastewater utilities. This interactive tool is available online at www.efc.unc.edu. Founded by Albert Coates in 1931 as the Institute of Government, the School of Government provides educational, advisory, and research services for state and local governments. To learn more about the School, visit www.sog.unc.edu or call 919.966.5381.

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