TMWA Takeover?

Gino Martini is the Sparks Mayor and also on the board of TMWA.

"This is not a done deal. It is not cast in stone. Nobody has made up his mind all we want to do is look at it. Its an opportunity I don't think we can pass up."

Martini and others on the TMWA board are asking questions and doing their own research on an offer by Goldman Sachs to a long term lead of our area's water system. As Martini says, nothing is set at this time, but it appears the investment bank would like to lease the water assets for 50-years. In return Reno, Sparks, and the county would receive an upfront cash payment.

"You know we are all cash strapped. You know the state is cash strapped meaning we are going to be cash strapped. You know we need to look we are always looking for new revenues and things."

The government entities would retain ownership of TMWA assets. And upon return those assets must be given back in equal or better condition at the time of the lease. The idea is not new from Goldman Sachs or other investment banks who can use the water utility as part of an investment portfolio. The question is, while it may be an attractive investment, how protected will water customers be? Martini says this may be one move that helps consumers and pleases some state law makers.

"This has been spurred a lot by some of out legislators. They are looking for TMWA, even though it was under the auspices of the county and city of Reno and the city of Sparks, they were looking for it to go under the Public Utilities Commission. So this is the chance if they want to do that and we can legally do it. It would be under the public utilities commission."

Martini can't say if this means higher rates for customers. But he believes if the PUC is involved in the arragement they would have the final say on rate increases or could possibly mandate upgrades to the system.