By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – City Council President Darrell Clarke is pushing ahead with plans to overhaul the process in which water rates in Philadelphia are set – a 50-year old process that has Clarke scratching his head.

Under the city charter, water rate changes are proposed by Water Department staffers and then – after public hearings – are decided by their boss, the Water Commissioner. That doesn’t sit well with Council President Darrell Clarke.

“The Water Commissioner decided on his own water rate request.”

City voters last year approved a charter change, allowing Council to set up a new board to handle water rate requests, and Clarke has now come out with a formal plan for independent body to rule on rate changes.

“It sets up a five-member team, appointed by the mayor, who must be confirmed by the Council. One will be an advocate from the public sector. These individuals will have full public hearings during the course of a rate request, or other matters relating to water operations.”

It is modeled on the state’s Public Utility Commission.

“We basically are establishing a miniature PUC on a local level. I think that’s the appropriate way to go.”

The proposal will be debated in committee.

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