With no apparent shame, Muscatine (Iowa) Power & Water announced Wednesday that it projects a $1.7 million loss for its municipal broadband and cable TV operation in 2006 and will raise rates next year. This is the same Muscatine Power & Water that, according to the InMuscatine.com blog, decried as “grossly inaccurate” a Heartland Institute report that analyzed the financial performance of MP&W’s broadband operation since its inception and concluded that it would continue to lose money and would have to raise rates. This is the same Muscatine Power & Water that urged voters in some 32 Iowa cities and towns to vote in favor of municipal broadband by assuring them that its own broadband operation was financially sound and meeting positive operating and net income projections. Now, just three weeks after the election, MP&W has disclosed that it is indeed still losing money and will have to raise rates. Never mind all the vitriol it threw at Heartland and the report’s author, Dr. Ronald Rizzuto, professor of finance at the University of Denver, MP&W owes an explanation of this sudden reversal of fortune not just to the ratepayers in Muscatine, but to all those in Iowa who voted in favor of municipal broadband based on MP&W’s statements about it financial health. Don’t hold your breath.
Steven Titch served as a policy analyst at Reason Foundation from 2004 to 2013.