Former Mayor Wilson Goode Sr. has come out in favor of the sale of Philadelphia Gas Works to a private corporation, penning an op-ed supporting the sale in the Philadelphia Tribune newspaper.
For taxpayers, the big challenge facing the city is taming the monster that is the pension fund and its increasing cost to the city budget. Keep in mind that dollars placed into the pension fund cannot be used for other city services. The sale will produce about a $500 million deposit into the pension fund, immediately improving its financial condition. It is true that the city would lose the $18 million PGW pays to the general fund each year, but it would save significantly more than that amount each year by placing the sale proceeds into the pension fund. The infusion of cash wouldn’t cure the pension fund, but it would stabilize and reverse its out-of-control growth, which is depriving residents of other services.
Even beyond a sale’s beneficial effect on the city’s finances, the mere matter of having a private company operate the utility just makes good sense. Taking nothing away from the current management at PGW, which is doing very good work, my experience as a regulator at the PUC taught me that private companies quite simply do a superior job than government of operating utilities.
Goode served as mayor between 1984 and 1992.