I was annexed into the City of Fort Wayne Jan 1st, 2003.
I live on the north side of town near Pine Valley. My Water service and part of my sewer service is provided by Aqua Indiana.
In 2002 The City of Fort Wayne started a legal action to seize Aqua Indiana (The north division in Allen County) by EMINENT DOMAIN.
I sat down and talked to Ted Nitza (The Water Resources Program Manager for Fort Wayne) about this use of Eminent Domain by the city of Fort Wayne. We talked for about an hour on the morning of September 23rd.
To make a long story short, the City of Fort Wayne thinks they can do a better job of providing service to the 8000 affected customers. They feel that they can combine the two utility services and save rate payers money on future capital improvements.
I am really not qualified to determine if Ted Nitza is correct. I have to say, I am skeptical. I just have a hard time trusting a City that annexed me and immediately raised my property taxes 31% (My property taxes were raised a total of 63% that year between the City and Re-assessment) in the first year.
That being said, I am currently a customer of Aqua Indiana. I am happy with Aqua Indiana. I would think that the City of Fort Wayne would do a survey of the 8000 customers and see what these 8000 customers want. That is Democracy...
That of course has not been done... That makes way too much sense.
What scares me about the Eminent Domain action against a successful local utility is the implications to local businesses.
What would happen if the City decided it could better perform other functions then private enterprises? For example, the City currently runs a bus system that is ridden by very few people and wastes a large amount of taxpayer dollars today. What would happen if The City decided to expand its bus service in an attempt to utilize the busses more efficiently? Maybe they would decide to seize Turnstone or a similar company using Eminent Domain on the basis that The City of Fort Wayne could transport people better then a private company. What would we think of an action like that?
What would happen if the City decided it should take over transportation for all school kids in The City limits? What if the City decided it could provide better taxi service. You get the idea.
Fort Wayne in not efficient. That has been proven by the property tax increases immediately seen by all the citizens who have been annexed against their will... Lets keep The City of Fort Wayne out of private businesses and lets unite and elect new City officials who will use Eminent Domain as a LAST resort.
This is a dangerous situation that needs to be monitored.
I can tell you when this situation may really get out of hand. If Fort Wayne is successful against Aqua Indiana North; then they may well decide to go after the Aqua Indiana utility in Aboite. The people in Aboite would just love that.