To the editor:
I have been a plumber in this community for over 50 years. I know we need to have good sewer and water systems and keep rates affordable for business and our citizens, particularly those on fixed incomes.
In the recent Chronicle article, our city manager admitted that our water and sewer rates are “some of the highest in Oregon.” He failed to mention that these already high rates are scheduled to go even higher and higher over the next several years.
The city manager and three city councilors (two of which, Wood and Dick, are up for re-election this November) believe rate increases are necessary in order to make improvements in our water and sewer system because necessary maintenance has been deferred. Mayor Lawrence and two city councilors (Miller and McGlothlin) did not agree.
I am a simple plumber, so can anyone explain this to me: If the current high rates and future higher rates are necessary to improve our water and sewer systems, then why has millions of dollars of water and sewer revenue been diverted to the general fund and other city departments like the street fund?
I am not making this up. If you look at the City of The Dalles budgets between 2005-06 and now, almost $8 million of water and sewer revenue has been put into the general fund. An additional $2 million has been transferred to the street fund.
Three things have occurred to me. First, we ratepayers have been overcharged in order to fund other city departments. Second, the city council (or at least a majority of its members have not looked after our interests and have not held city officials accountable. Third, why has system maintenance been deferred if water and sewer revenues have been increasing year after year?
As a ratepayer, I feel like I have been used and abused. It’s clear that we need to fix this problem and fix it now! Come this November, I am voting to flush at least two current city councilors, but to keep Mayor Lawrence.