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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Myopic City Officials Cost Taxpayers $75,000

JG Excerpt:
Sept. 11, 2009 -- An agreement between the Janesville Water Utility and an environmental group would fundamentally change how residents are charged for the water they use.
Janesville residential customers would pay less per unit of water as their household water usage decreases, a reverse of the current billing system. This is good news for residents who are looking for ways to not only save water but also save money. All rate hikes being equal, it will reward water conservation and hopefully instill the proper respect our natural resources deserve.

But there was a catch.
JG Excerpt:
Aug. 22, 2009 -- The agreement the council will consider on Monday was created by the water utility after negotiations with Clean Wisconsin. The $75,000 annual budget included in that plan was “more than the city wanted, but significantly less than originally requested (by Clean Wisconsin),” according to a memo to the council from Director of Utilities Dan Lynch.
The city administration and council couldn’t ignore Clean Wisconsin like they've ignored their own concerned constituents. Why? Because...
JG Excerpt:
Aug. 26, 2009 ... Clean Wisconsin is an advocacy group that was awarded intervener status when the city applied for a water rate increase with the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. The city will develop a water conservation plan that will include community education, residential rebates and commercial/industrial audits.
Clean Wisconsin was empowered by the State of Wisconsin and given equal authoritative status with local officials - they had to be accommodated. The bottom line is that Janesville will no longer reward excessive water consumption with volume discounts. This is great news providing someone can't "buy" an exemption.

With that said, why did it take the pressure from an outside environmental group and a $75,000 settlement to nudge the city towards water resource conservation, when Janesville has concerned citizens (modestly including myself), a city appointed sustainability committee and a local environmental advocate (Rock Environmental Network) making a stink over similar regressive pricing methods regarding city water and garbage waste facilities? Only to be largely ignored.

I've heard it all enough already in direct conversations, comments and emails on my blog. Oh, we (or I) are too aggressive, take the wrong approach, are combative, negative or power hungry. Baloney! I'm an altar boy compared to the tone of the teabaggers and anti-reform demonstrators. All are great buzzwords to demonize a perceived opponent in order to keep the status quo.

The administration and council's short-sightedness will cost city taxpayers what should have been an avoidable $75,000 today - we got off lucky this time with Clean Wisconsin. Still, it is a high price to pay because somebody refused to swallow their tender ego. What will it cost taxpayers the next time city officials refuse to work with locals boldly working against the grain, and instead have to surrender policy control once again to an outside group? It could be millions next time.

With this economy and urgency, it would be much cheaper to bruise the ego, get the job done and then apologize for it later.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Didn't you know? The recession is over.

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