How about just saying “no?”
How about insisting that the city of St. Joseph explore other ways to fund sewer improvement other than just piling increased rates on its residents and customers year after year?
In case you missed it — and you might have since the press release was issued after 8 o’clock on a Thursday night — our City Council is poised to force a 15 percent rate increase down the throats of its citizens. Apparently, the city released the results of a study that looked at the cost of providing service and revenue needs for next year and recommended the increase.
I found this paragraph somewhat ironic:
“The 15-percent overall increase is consistent with the commitment City Council made last year regarding the anticipated increase in the fiscal year 2017. The increases are proposed to go into effect on August 1, following review and consideration by City Council.”
How sweet. The city council made a commitment to raise our sewer rates by double digits and, by jove, they’re going to stay true to their word.
Oh, and there’s more bad news. Sewer rates in St. Joseph will keep rising and rising and rising.
Again, quoting from the news release:
“The rate study also projects rate increases needed for subsequent years following fiscal 2017. Fortunately, the level of required increases is projected to be less.”
So, the increases will keep coming but we should feel good that future increases won’t be as high as 15 percent. Somehow I don’t feel good.
Each month, our water bill runs about $27. Our sewer bill is about twice that, say around $55. With a 15.5 percent increase, we’ll be paying more than $60 per month, starting this summer.
And, here’s another feel-good moment from the press release:
“The report also confirms that the city has made good progress on the issue of reducing bad debt expense, while acknowledging that it is still a contributor to rate increases.”
In other words, the city has tracked down a bunch of deadbeats who haven’t paid their sewer bills but there’s still plenty of them out there and they’re still making your monthly bill increase.
I don’t have an answer for our sewer mess. But maybe we can get creative and brainstorm a few different ways of paying for this.
Capital Improvement money, perhaps?
Or, how about a sales tax? One councilman proposes that we pass a sales tax to fix our streets. Why don’t we instead fix our sewers? Could we at least put it on the ballot and see what people prefer?
Maybe that’s the sticking point. A sales tax has to be passed by voters and that means an election and campaigning. Meanwhile, sewer rates can be increased with a quick council vote and the stroke of pen. It’s the path of least resistance.
Unless our City Council does something to relieve the burden on sewer customers, more people will continue to move to the city or relocate to surrounding towns and Kansas City. We can’t keep loading increase after increase on property owners and renters who live here and want to keep on living here.
I admit that this sewer fiasco angers me.
It angers me enough that I’ve Googled do-it-yourself plans for building an outhouse.
Hmmm. Maybe I can construct one out of discarded pallets.