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Policy: Consolidating City-Utility Operations

CCR - Consolidating City-Utility Operations

SUMMARY: Save taxpayer dollars by streamlining the overhead associated with the City’s operations as they relate to City-owned utilities.


TO: Mayor and City Council 

FROM: Councilman Dan Rossiter, District 7 

COPIES TO: Erik Walsh, City Manager; Debbie Racca-Sitre, City Clerk; Andrew Segovia, City Attorney; John Peterek, Assistant to the City Manager; Emily McGinn, Assistant to City Council 

SUBJECT: Consolidating City-Utility Operations

DATE: May 6, 2023

Issue Proposed for Consideration
I ask for your support for the inclusion of the following item on the agenda of the earliest available meeting of the Governance Committee:

Request City staff evaluate and develop a plan to mitigate existing redundant operations between City-owned utilities and core City operations, reducing cross-organizational costs and increasing positive outcomes for San Antonians interfacing with the City and with utilities. Staff evaluation should consider at a minimum the following:

  • Billing: The City has already established precedent through consolidation of Waste Management billing under the purview of CPS Energy. Furthermore, CPS Energy anticipates a near-term need to update computer systems to handle more advanced billing needs which will incur significant cost to San Antonians. Furthermore, consolidating SAWS billing into a singular billing entity will reduce cost to San Antonians and simplify to allow for a single “San Antonio Utilities” bill. Furthermore, with increased cybersecurity focus nationwide, the opportunity to reduce attack vectors by having a single system responsible for billing San Antonians aligns with established best practice.
  • Inspections: Current practice when inspecting work performed by City-owned utilities often requires utility staff to wait for hours at the job site for a City inspector to arrive and evaluate work before the utility can complete the work. This practice consumes hours of time for utility staff and equipment, plus strains capacity of City inspectors. City staff should evaluate ways to further optimize these processes given greatly reduced risk as compared to projects executed by outside contractors.
  • Graffiti: The City’s graffiti mitigation operations are highly tuned. Conversely, CPS Energy is not focused on graffiti mitigation (nor should it be). This results in graffiti on CPS-owned assets including cabinets & poles lingering on average much longer than City-owned assets. Consolidating graffiti mitigation efforts for CPS Energy assets up to the City will simplify reporting graffiti for San Antonians and mitigate potential broken window theory broader implications having graffiti linger for longer periods of time.

Brief Background
As City-owned utilities, CPS Energy and San Antonio Water System (SAWS) scope of operations are under the purview of the City. Economies of scale suggest the City should continually evaluate opportunities to reduce the number of different organizations responsible for performing the same or similar tasks. These continual evaluations should prioritize both overall operational cost reductions and overall increased convenience to San Antonians.

Submitted for Council Consideration by:


Councilman Dan Rossiter, District 7


PDF: Consolidating City-Utility Operations

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