Municipal Water, Wastewater and Drainage Utilities
Stack’d was engaged to perform a Cost of Service and Rate Study for the Water, Wastewater, and Drainage Utilities of a major Canadian municipality. The main purpose was to develop rates for the 2019-2022 business cycle, as well as plan for longer term strategies.
This year-long engagement resulted in the following outcomes:
- An equitable allocation of revenue requirements between customer classes;
- Analysis of utility issues and determination of strategic objectives associated with cost of service, rates, and rate setting; and,
- Fair and defensible rates for water, wastewater, and drainage services that inform the City’s 2019-2022 business plans and budgets.
Throughout this engagement, Stack’d worked collaboratively with subject-matter-experts and various key stakeholders. Stack’d was responsible for ensuring the project was executed successfully and the final rate structure was defensible. Multiple strategic working sessions were conducted with the Steering Committee to gather input on strategic issues, confirm understanding, and review results. The final rate structure was approved by City Council.
Government Innovation Body
A provincial innovation body engaged Stack’d to help prepare for the integration of four separate corporations into a newly consolidated entity. Merger success was of significant strategic importance to provincial leaders, so advanced work in designing the new organization and planning the integration of the functional work streams was critical.
To assist, Stack’d facilitated the development of a target organizational structure and transition plan to combine the four organizational structures into one. Given the advanced stage of this work, it was important that the recommendations were flexible to allow further refinement as the consolidation progressed. In addition, Stack’d provided support to the Project Management Office leader to help with tracking transition activities, managing interdependencies, reviewing deliverables, and developing communication materials and status reports for transition stakeholders, including the Board of Directors.
As a result, ‘Day-1’ of the new organization was a success, having implemented the initial phase of the organization design and successfully launched the transition plans for the functional work streams.
Municipality and Wholly-Owned Utility
An Alberta municipality had previously established a wholly-owned utility as a municipally-controlled corporation. Since forming the Utility as a corporation, the municipality had been challenged with providing it appropriate guidance as part of reviewing the annual rate applications.
Stack’d was engaged to assist the municipality by reviewing the current situation and establishing a go-forward mandate and rate regulatory framework. The Stack’d team worked closely with the municipality’s Mayor, Council, CAO and the Utility’s Board of Directors and CEO to develop, review and confirm the project’s deliverables. A new mandate was established which provided the desired scope and direction for the Utility to pursue a financially sustainable suite of regulated versus non-regulated services. In addition, an updated regulatory framework was established which addressed rate-making mechanisms and processes, and defined the role of the municipality as both shareholder and rate regulator.
Large Municipal Waste Management Utility
Our client wished to develop a long-term funding model for their waste and recycling services which reflected a comprehensive treatment of service costs in alignment with a new, integrated rate structure.
Stack’d was engaged to lead a year-long detailed financial review, yielding the following deliverables:
- A new funding model to meet the needs of their next 4-year business cycle;
- A detailed cost of service study;
- A new rate structure, integrated rates model, and indicative rates; and,
- An implementation plan, including both financial and operational performance measures.
A ‘to-be’ 2010-2022 funding model has been established with the client’s management team based on a comprehensive ‘as-is’ financial model review, input from leading practices, and WRS’ desired outcomes. This vision included the identification of specific sources of funds (e.g. user fees, commodity sales, tipping fees, etc.) which shall be used to pay for their corresponding services. In addition, a 10-year forward-looking cost of service study was performed and used to support the subsequent rate structure development for 2019-2022.
To ensure understanding of how costs were allocated, Stack’d worked extensively and collaboratively with internal subject-matter-experts to understand the underlying nature of the work performed. In addition, we developed and confirmed a “translation” document with the client management team for how costs within each department and activity mapped to services, functions, and cost centers. Further, we conducted several strategic working sessions with the management team to gain input on strategic issues and confirm draft solutions for several deliverables.
Our client (pop. ~1M) needed to renew its 10-year strategic plan which outlined the long-term vision for the City. They engaged Stack’d to help refine its strategic planning methodology and develop a detailed project plan to guide the renewal of the strategic plan over the next 2-3 years.
Our team collaborated with the client group to define and develop a new strategic planning framework that was ultimately endorsed by the steering committee composed of the City Manager and other senior City officials. We then developed a detailed project plan to help the City create their 10-Year Strategic Plan which was to include the City Vision, Strategic Goals and Desired Future State, Strategies, and Initiatives.
The project plan successfully incorporated an approach to enable the City to break down long-standing silos within its departments as well as involve an extensive stakeholder engagement process to ensure the voice of the City’s citizens are heard. Our client went on to execute the project plan with a clear understanding of what was required to be done.
County Water & Wastewater Utility
Our client recognized that rates for their utility services had significantly increased in recent years and Council wanted to ensure rate stability going forward. In addition, although a high-level rates model was previously developed based on a “full utility basis”, the model did not allocate costs between different customer classes.
As a result, the County engaged Stack’d to perform a detailed cost of service and rate study. This included developing the following deliverables:
- A comprehensive “as-is” review to understand the unique utility systems, service levels, operational volumes and customer consumption levels, and customer classes;
- A detailed cost of service study; and,
- A new 10-year rate structure based on changes to current customer classes and desired rate-making objectives.
As a result, the client established a fit-for-purpose methodology for determining rate revenue requirements based on availability of asset financing data and sufficient funding for forward-looking infrastructure investments. A “modified utility basis” was developed and selected as the most appropriate method to calculate rate revenue requirements for the Utility. In addition, a focused rate study resulted in an updated rate structure that reflected (1); changes to existing customer classes (based on different service levels, advanced statistical analysis of customer class consumption patterns, and costs), and (2); desired rate-making objectives.
Government Innovation Body
Stack’d was engaged by a provincial innovation body to assist the leadership team in the development of a five year strategic plan for the organization, including defining their role in improving the Province’s innovation system.
Through multiple sessions with 15 of the organization’s top leaders, a five year strategic plan was developed. Stack’d was then engaged to help manage the strategic program management office and participate in the execution of six strategic initiatives. These initiatives included improving internal operations as well as developing Industry-based innovation grand challenges that could be solved through basic research, applied research and commercialization.
Based on the resulting strategic plan, the organization has implemented a new operating model, organizational structure, an approach to prioritizing innovation system investments, and have advanced the execution of the innovation grand challenges.
The municipality (pop. 50k+) required a review of its funding requirements for its Waste, Wastewater, Storm Water, and Waste Management Utilities for the purpose of developing Utility Fiscal Policies.
Stack’d Consulting performed a comprehensive cost structure and policy review resulting in recommendations in utility funding, financing, reserves management, rate-setting, and overall financial management. Key considerations were given to how the Utility should fund projected infrastructure replacement and growth requirements.
Council provided accolades on the quality of analysis and reporting and ultimately adopted policy recommendations as brought forward by administration.
Government Innovation Body
A provincial organization focused at technology innovation across industry, government, and educational institutions had recently adopted a new mandate and operating model.
To support this new operating model, new operating processes were required to guide how provincial technology innovation investments should be evaluated, selected, monitored, and reported on. Our consulting professionals facilitated a client team comprised of senior, cross-functional leaders in the design and development of a Corporate Portfolio Management Office (CPMO). The purpose of this CPMO was to identify, evaluate, and prioritize investments and internal projects to better track and achieve desired technology innovation outcomes.
The CPMO was designed, developed, and launched within 6 months, providing our client’s management team the basis to holistically review, evaluate, and select new proposed investments to the province’s innovation system.
A major municipality (pop. 1M+) engaged our team to lead the development of customer service standards across all departments and services.
We led a multi-year project focused at reviewing current customer service practices and developing a Corporate Customer Service Framework and Strategy. A senior, cross-organizational team was facilitated to develop a desired future-state vision, customer service standards for common customer interactions, an internal governance model to lead subsequent customer service implementation activities, internal employee learning and development initiatives, customer service performance measures, and an implementation plan. A Corporate Customer Service Framework was established as a guide which individual Business Units could subsequently use to establish customer service standards for their unique, priority services.
This project provided the municipality the basis to both communicate what desired customer service outcomes look like for the corporation and subsequently create and align customer service promises for individual municipal services with its overall vision.