Public Service Board

The Public Service Board approved a $508 million budget Wednesday, which includes a small increase in water rates.

The El Paso Public Service Board, which oversees the El Paso Water utility, approved a new $508 million budget Wednesday, which is up 3% for the coming year, along with small increases in water, wastewater and stormwater rates.

The board also approved new rates for water services that will nudge the average monthly residential water bill in this desert community up by an average of $1.37 a month to $59.25.

That’s lower than Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Dallas, according to El Paso Water.

The only vote against the rate increase on the five-member board came from Mayor Oscar Leeser, who was sworn in at the beginning of the meeting as a new board member replacing the former mayor, Dee Margo.

Leeser offered no explanation for his vote during the meeting, but later told KVIA Channel 7 that he felt a rate increase “was not the right thing to do.”

In other action, John Balliew, who’s been the utility’s president and CEO since 2003, was rewarded with a $26,613 pay increase after his annual evaluation by the board in executive session found his service to be “above average” and exceeding expectations.

The 9% raise will bump his annual salary up to $322,312. In addition, the board increased El Paso Water’s annual contribution to Balliew’s 401(a) retirement plan by $4,000 – the maximum the IRS allows – to $58,000.

All of the rate and salary changes will take effect with the start of the utility’s fiscal year on March 1.

Leeser abstained from voting on Balliew’s increase because, he said, he had just been sworn in as a new board member and could not evaluate Balliew’s performance.

Email El Paso Inc. reporter David Crowder at or call (915) 630-6622.


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