Starting next year, the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority expects to boost revenue by more than $200,000 annually by billing customers for special water lines used for fire-suppression systems.
About 1,000 buildings, including those used by universities and hospitals, are among those to be charged the fee, Jim Good, the authority's interim executive director, said after a board meeting Friday.
About 95 percent will be charged $17 per line per month, while others with especially big buildings will pay more because larger lines are required to serve them, Mr. Good said. The authority adopted the fee in 2006, but never implemented it, he said.
The fee is for water lines that run between the authority's main and fire-suppression systems in customers' buildings.
For the next three years, half of the money collected through the fee will go to Chicago-based Veolia Water North America, the management firm retained in July to improve the authority's operations and finances.
Under the authority's contract with Veolia, the firm receives $150,000 a month, a portion of extra revenue or savings it identifies for the agency and additional, one-time payments for meeting "key performance indicators." Mr. Good, a Veolia employee, discovered the "fire line" fee wasn't being implemented.
Customers already have been notified of the fee and will be sent a reminder before year's end. While some have asked questions about the fee, Mr. Good said, none have complained.
The board approved a list of seven key performance indicators for Veolia.
The indicators focus on capital projects, communication, customer service improvements, compliance, finance, safety and leadership and training.
If Veolia meets all of the goals in each category, it would receive a one-time payment of $450,000.
"These are really critical, core components of what as an authority we want to do," city Councilman Patrick Dowd, an authority board member, said.
"We want a more responsive authority."
Another board member, Robert Jablonowski, said the accountability push was one of the best initiatives he had seen at the agency in more than five years.
The board retained Veolia after a string of controversies related to finance, personnel and storm-water management.
Mr. Good praised authority workers for the work they did in advance of Hurricane Sandy -- including the cleaning of catch basins repeatedly blamed for flooding in eastern neighborhoods.
Joe Smydo: email@example.com or 412-263-1548.