Senate Majority Leader Wilton Simpson is putting the state’s Public Service Commission on notice.
In a letter Thursday, Simpson and House Speaker Richard Corcoran scolded PSC Chairwoman Julie Brown over reports that the commission is considering barring members of the Summertree community from testifying at an upcoming proceeding.
“For several years, we have voiced our serious concerns about the high prices being charged and the quality of water being received by these citizens,” the two men wrote in the letter. “The water quality issues have largely been resolved as a result of the recent interconnection with Pasco County’s water system. However, the citizens we represent continue to have very serious issues and concerns with what they consider to be exorbitant water rates and poor-quality customer service provided to them by this utility.”
Residents have complained that they are being charged more than double than people living in nearby neighborhoods, according to a recent report from WFTS Tampa Bay.
The utility company is proposing consolidating its rates for all of its customers statewide to about $71 for water and sewer to pay for infrastructure improvements, according to the report. And that has residents worried their rate will continue to go up.
According to the letter to Brown, residents have told Simpson and Corcoran that the “Public Service Commission is considering barring them from testifying at an upcoming proceeding.”
“To put it plainly, this is unacceptable,” they wrote. “It is of the utmost importance that our citizens and taxpayers are afforded further opportunity to express their grave concerns at a public forum.”
The letter goes on to point out that both the House and Senate have taken “aggressive steps to hold all governmental entities to higher standards of transparency and accountability,” and told Brown the commission’s “protocols and procedures should always reflect the State of Florida’s longstanding commitment to transparency and accountability.”