The Public Service Board is one of the most powerful organizations in El Paso. It has maintained direct control over our water and wastewater systems since 1952.
According to their webpage, “the PSB adopts an annual combined operating, capital and debt service budget for El Paso Water with associated rates and fees for services.”
The PSB consists of the Mayor of El Paso and six board members, who are appointed by City Council. Its current members are Mayor Oscar Leeser, Chair Ivonne Santiago, Vice-Chair Bryan Morris, Secretary-Treasurer Charlie Intebi, Kristina Mena, Lisa Saenz, and Stefanie Block Uribarri.
The CEO of El Paso Water, John Balliew, serves at the pleasure of the PSB and earns a salary of $322,312, plus an annual contribution of $58,000 to his 401(a) retirement account and a $6,000 car allowance.
Vic Kolenc of the El Paso Times recently published a report showing that the PSB approved an increase in our water and sewage rates for the ninth straight year for its 221,000 residential and commercial customers.
According to Kolenc, the average residential bill for water and sewage increased by 13.5% in 2023.
For residential customers, there will be a further increase of 4% starting March 1, and the stormwater fee will likely raise by 13%.
El Paso Water claims the increase will support construction projects and critical infrastructural improvements.
Meanwhile, the City of El Paso operates four recently built water parks that require enormous quantities of water, and El Paso Water is spending $15 million to put a water feature into a private development, among other wasteful abuses.
Kolenc reports that Mayor Leeser was the only PSB member to vote against the new water and sewer budget and rate increase and that he has not voted in favor of raising rates in the seven years he has served on the PSB.