Letter: Oppose the proposed sewer rate increases
To the editor,
–The city is asking for an immediate raise of 24-percent beginning July 1, 2021, and then 8-percent per year for the next four years. The Sewer Fund has been in the red for four years, and no action was taken to correct it until the only means to reconcile this deficit was to come after us, again.
So how did it happen that our city didn’t have the foresight to get out ahead of what we all know is absolutely unavoidable?
If you read the staff report from the city council meeting of 2-16-21, you will see the reports from the January 2021 Wastewater Rate Study on page 11. There are 58 pages describing the sewer fund and its deficit condition, and then the rate tables telling us what we will wind up paying. The city is proposing these sewer rate increases in a disproportionate amount. I could go on and on about how we got here and who’s to blame.
But I would rather focus on some of the alternatives the city can use to lessen the burden on the hardworking people trying to get back on their feet after more than a year of COVID and our financial hardships.
1) Use 25-percent of the J-20 Fund revenue. Remember that 1-percent sales tax Increase we just voted in? They estimate that the J-20 Fund will experience approximately $10M a year in revenue. And remember, that money goes into the General Fund. The specific wording for that fund is to focus on police, fire, and roads; but that the city has the authority to direct these funds for what they determine is a priority. I believe that shoring up the sewer fund with J-20 money is a priority and good use of our taxpayer money. Maybe you use 25-percent of the J-20 Fund to make sure we never have these kinds of deficits again.
2) The city is about to receive $6.1M in COVID relief money. Per Supervisor Gibson, the funds could be allocated to: Direct investments in water, sewer, and broadband internet infrastructure. Households, small businesses, non-profits, and industries such as tourism and hospitality. Provide government services hit with revenue losses. Premium pay for certain essential workers. So as stated, the city could use some of that $6.1M for the sewer fund.
3) There is CARES Act monies that can be used to boost the fund. And remember, this increase will hit the restaurants very hard also. So to use economic recovery money to help the sewer fund helps the businesses as well. No one denies there needs to be regular increases in the costs of city services. But if they use other available money, they can implement smaller, less impactful increases. Maybe 10-percent +5+5+5+5. My point here is that the city needs to look in every nook and cranny for a solution other than to place this massive tax burden on the people.
The deadline to oppose this increase is April 20, 2021. Please go to the following links to find the Protest Form and read the guidelines for submitting your protest to the city:
Tell the city this is too much. Tell the city to go back to the drawing board, think outside the box, and use every other resource before implementing this increase.
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