Clean water represents one of the most basic and essential human needs. Over the last two centuries, American cities and counties have built hundreds of thousands of miles of pipe to distribute clean drinking water and convey wastewater back to treatment plants to be managed safely. With thousands of private and municipal utilities in the United States independently operating to provide water and wastewater service, meet environmental and public health regulations, and manage responses to demographic changes, it comes as no surprise that water and wastewater systems vary significantly in terms of condition and cost to customers.
Most utilities recoup water costs through user rates, which are based on fixed costs and water consumption. While these water and wastewater rates tend to be affordable in the United States, with most users paying less than 1% of their MHI, substantial geographic variation exists. This geographic disparity begs the question – are some groups systematically required to pay more for access to water and wastewater service? Previous studies have noted strong correlations between race, income levels, and environmental equity, with poor, minority populations more likely to be disproportionately burdened by negative externalities.
Using data from California, this study sought to determine whether community race and income levels impact the rates associated with water service or household water consumption. This research principally considered the relationship between demographic variables and water use, costs, and rates in 50 communities. The results indicate that communities with higher percentages of Black and Hispanic residents use more water, and have higher average water bills. Smaller communities and more educated communities also have higher average water bills. No demographic factors were found to cause variation in water rates, indicating that water consumption is a larger driver than water rates in determining the amount of money people spend on water service.
Vanna Kealy and Marc Botero, both graduates from the MPA Program, have committed to serve in the Peace Corps as Literacy Instructors and Facilitators in Vanuatu. Vanna graduated in December of 2015 and Marc graduated in December of 2016. They promise to keep careful notes on their experiences and will prepare an exhibit for a future Alumni-Student Conference!
Hannah Shore (MPA '16), who just graduated this December from the MPA program, has been named a Presidential Management Fellow Finalist (PMF). This is a highly competitive program (417 Finalists selected from 6,370 applicants) designed by the federal government to recruit top talent from graduate public affairs programs.
Hannah will now be interviewing for placement in a PMF position in a federal agency that is consistent with her career interests.
This is a tremendous honor for Hannah and a reflection of the quality preparation provided by our faculty.
Under the direction of Dr. Jim Douglas and Doug Bean, thirteen MPA students presented their group Capstone project to staff at the Centralina Council of Governments on December 8. The report is entitled, 'The Centralina Council of Governments Community Economic Development Resource Report and Guide."
Click here to download their report!
Article Title: Mayors, Accomplishments, and Advancement
Journal: Urban Affairs Review
This article examines the effects of accomplishments on the career paths of big-city mayors. Using data from 104 cities with populations over 160,000 from 1992 to 2012, this study examines the extent to which performance in economics, crime, and recruiting mega-events affects mayors’ decisions to seek reelection or other offices, or retire. Results indicate those mayors of cities with population growth, a decrease in the crime rate, and that host certain mega-events (presidential nominating conventions) are more likely to seek another office than other mayors. A decrease in the crime rate seems to help mayors win reelection while none of the other accomplishments appear to improve their chances of winning campaigns for other offices.
How did you become involved with this article? I was selected to be a part of the UNC Charlotte Research Scholars program. I was paired with my mentoring professor, Dr. Heberlig, and we worked on the research for the article. I was able to present the research at the end of the program and again at North Carolina Political Science Association Conference in 2015.
Why did you decide on an MPA degree from UNC Charlotte? I’ve always wanted to have a career in public service. It’s what drew me to pursue political science as an undergrad. When I decided to get my MPA I could not think of a better program to be a part of. The faculty here is great, the students are excellent and everyone here works hard to make sure that we have the tools needed to learn and succeed in the public sector.
For his international work in advancing public sector performance, UNC Charlotte researcher James Douglas has received the Senator Peter B. Boorsma Award. The Southeastern Conference for Public Administration presented him the award in October in Raleigh at its annual conference. The Boorsma Award honors a practitioner or academician who facilitates over many years the international exchange of knowledge and administrative practices that foster better performance in the public sector. “I have worked in countries that are very different from the United States and from each other,” Douglas said. “Working in such places helps bridge the gap in understanding across countries and cultures. I think the committee also appreciated that I have done both teaching and research abroad.” Douglas is a professor in the Department of Political Science & Public Administration in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Estonia at Tallinn University of Technology in 2014 and an advisory board member for the Center of Governance and Public Management at the Lahore University of Management Sciences from 2013 to 2015. He has published in academic journals including Policy Studies Journal, Public Organization Review, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Public Administration Review, American Journal of Political Science and others. His specialties include public budgeting and finance, judicial administration and public administration. He has consulted with and taught public officials in Japan, China, Pakistan and Estonia, focusing on public policy best practices. “I believe my work has had its biggest impact in Pakistan, where the public officials I trained are working under extremely difficult conditions,” he said. “Their positive attitudes and eagerness to make their country better was an inspiration to me.” Douglas was director of the UNC Charlotte Master of Public Administration program from 2006 to 2012. Prior to joining UNC Charlotte’s faculty, he was a faculty member at the University of South Carolina and the University of Oklahoma. He earned his doctoral degree in public administration from the University of Georgia. “We are very proud of this recognition of Jim’s outstanding scholarship on the international stage,” said Thomas Barth, director of UNC Charlotte’s MPA program. “It reflects the talent and dedication Jim brings to his scholarship, teaching and engagement.” Douglas describes his selection as a distinct honor. “Receiving the award affirms in my mind that the work I have been doing abroad is meaningful and is hopefully making a difference in the world,” he said.
Words: Erin Cortez, CLAS student intern | Image: Lynn Roberson
Recent Faculty News:
MPA faculty (Maureen Brown, Joanne Carman, Jim Douglas, Zach Mohr and Tom Barth) offered the first module of the new MPA Public Management Academy at Center City on March 24.