Newly-elected District 9 City Councilman Joe Krier worked with fellow Council members to file a Council Consideration Request (CCR) today in an effort to fix the “transparency” issues he and other Council members noted in the San Antonio Water System (SAWS) and CPS Energy salary increase and bonus pay process.
Both entities have received criticism after the May 8 City Council meeting where SAWS CEO Robert Puente recommended a 116 percent increase in water supply impact fees to the Council. This drastic increase in fees comes on the heels of the SAWS Board of Trustee decision to give SAWS CEO Robert Puente a raise from $325,187 to $373,966 and a bonus performance award of $72,832. During the May 8 Council meeting, Councilman Krier questioned Puente directly about the timing of his raise while he is proposing approval of such a massive impact fee increase. Krier indicated that many of his constituents were unhappy about the on-going bonus policies of both SAWS and CPS Energy. At the time, Puente said that the decision to increase his pay was made by the SAWS board alone.
In the past, the CPS Energy board has also been criticized for giving its CEO and executives large bonuses while attempting to raise utility rates. In 2012, news that CPS Energy CEO Doyle Beneby received a $410,000 bonus on top of his $410,000 base salary upset many CPS Energy rate payers. In 2013, it is reported that the CPS Energy Board awarded Beneby up to $850,000 in salary and bonuses in contrast to his predecessor Milton Lee who earned $578,034 in fiscal year 2008-2009.
Councilman Krier and four other Council members – Councilman Diego Bernal, Councilwoman Ivy Taylor, Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran and Councilman Mike Gallagher – signed the CCR to call for a City staff feasibility study to recommend ways that the City Council could exercise better oversight of both SAWS and CPS Energy salary increases and their bonus pay process. Currently, CPS Energy and SAWS bonus pay and salary increases are determined solely by their respective boards with no input by or advance notice to the City Council. The CCR itself will not stop current bonuses for the CPS Energy or SAWS CEOs, however it makes clear of an effort to provide more transparency. The request is for the study of the manner and extent by which the Mayor and City Council can participate in the bonus and pay process with these two organizations.
The City Attorney and City Staff will evaluate the CCR to determine the range of policy options the Council may consider.
The issue of the SAWS 116 percent water supply impact fee increase is scheduled to go back to the City Council for a vote on Thursday, May 29, 2014.