(February 27, 2018) - The Trump Administration’s infrastructure proposal, affordability and the fragmentation of the water sector were top discussion items as EPA’s Environmental Financial Advisory Board (EFAB) convened in Washington, DC on February 20 - 21 for its winter meeting. The Board, made up of representatives from the municipal community, financial institutions, the private sector and academia, advises the Agency on an array of finance-related issues
Following a briefing from a White House official, Board members expressed skepticism that President Trump’s proposed incentives-based program for funding infrastructure work – intended to attract non-federal investments and private, state or local leveraging – would provide meaningful relief for those communities most in need. The incentives program seeks, though not overtly, to drive utilities toward full-cost pricing for their water services, but Board members expressed concern that such an approach would not be enough to overcome existing obstacles to raising rates at the local level in many communities.
The Board also provided EPA with feedback on how it should address the recommendations from the recent National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report on affordability, stressing that EPA needs to make a clean start to reframe how the Agency will evaluate utility financial capability and affordability and not simply build upon existing guidance. Several members of NACWA’s Finance Workgroup participate as members of EFAB, and NACWA will continue to track the Board’s work, including a new effort looking at the financial considerations of utility regionalization/consolidation.
For more information, contact Chris Hornback, NACWA’s Chief Technical Officer.