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Survey Shows City Divided Over KAWC

Contact: Mary Margaret Colliver

 

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Those surveyed were asked if they support or oppose the council’s decision to use its power of eminent domain to pursue local ownership of KAWC. The pollsters explained that the German utility conglomerate that owns KAWC refused Mayor Teresa Isaac’s offer to buy the water company for $185 million with a 20-year contract to manage it and the Urban County Council voted to start proceedings to condemn the company to see how much it will cost to acquire.

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 22, 2003) -- The University of Kentucky Survey Research Center recently completed a survey of Lexington/Fayette County adults asking their opinions about a variety of current local issues, including the ownership of Kentucky American Water Company (KAWC).

The public appears to be divided over whether the city should pursue local ownership of KAWC. While a small majority support the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council’s decision to pursue local ownership, there is a wide disparity of opinion about how aggressively the city should pursue ownership, particularly if it turns out that KAWC is very expensive to acquire.

Those surveyed were asked if they support or oppose the council’s decision to use its power of eminent domain to pursue local ownership of KAWC. The pollsters explained that the German utility conglomerate that owns KAWC refused Mayor Teresa Isaac’s offer to buy the water company for $185 million with a 20-year contract to manage it and the Urban County Council voted to start proceedings to condemn the company to see how much it will cost to acquire.

Results show that 31.5 percent of those surveyed strongly support the decision and an additional 18.2 percent somewhat support the council’s decision, while 32.8 percent strongly oppose and 11.7 percent somewhat oppose the move. Five percent responded “don’t know,” and .6 percent refused to answer.

“While the overall majority in support of the council is small, and indeed not beyond the survey’s margin-of-error, the distribution of responses indicates how polarized the community has become over this issue,” Ronald E. Langley, director of UK’s Survey Research Center.

Statistical analysis of the data show that older respondents, those who have no children in the household, non-whites, Democrats, and ideologically more liberal respondents were somewhat more likely to support the council’s decision. Respondent’s gender, education level and income level had no effect on responses to this question.

Those surveyed were also offered several courses of action to a potential scenario: “The case could take five to seven years in court and cost a million dollars to litigate. Even after that, the city is not required to follow through and acquire the company if it turns out to be too expensive.”

Results of this question were: buy KAWC no matter the cost, 15.0 percent; buy KAWC only if it’s not too expensive, 12.9 percent; continue to negotiate to avoid court, 31.1 percent; city should drop the whole matter, 38.8 percent; don’t know, 1.8 percent; and refused to answer, .4 percent.

The Lexington Issues 2003 survey was conducted by telephone July 19 – August 17, 2003, with 1,091 randomly selected adult Fayette County residents. The survey’s margin of error is + 2.97 percent. For more information on the survey, visit http://survey.rgs.uky.edu/issues


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