Last Friday, as I was jockeying my car from one side of the street to the other in the pouring rain in honor of alternate side of the street parking, I had time to ponder the rate increase that the Department of Environmental Protection, more specifically, the Water Board, had just passed — to the tune of 14.5 percent. What, you say? Fourteen point five percent? Water should be free, right? There is plenty of it, and we don’t have to import it from a foreign country, do we? No big water drilling rigs, no big water transport tankers. Then why the raise in rates?
For all those services they provide us with, silly. They get the water to us through pipes in the ground. Con Ed raised their rates too!
Then there is the budget for their staff, all those people who check on all those who don’t pay their bills. And of course let's not forget it costs a lot of money to keep those information lines so busy that you get disgusted, hang up and don’t dispute the overblown charges at all.
As I was slogging through the drops, I also had an opportunity to remember that our Mayor, Mighty Mike the Mouth, let the raise go through. Gee — it seems like only yesterday that he thought transit workers were thugs because they struck and stuck the city for a measly 10 percent over three years to raise their salaries. Boo hoo.
But 14.5 percent — on top of the 11.5 percent from last year — adds up to more than 25 percent in just a little over one year. Doesn't it smell a bit usurious and even “thuggish” to you? The city also gave the green light to Con Ed, with a rate increase last year and another hike this year. It seems they really need the extra money for ... gee, wait: what do they really need all that extra money for, anyway? Certainly service hasn't been improved. Blackout, anyone?
The Water Board claimed that rising costs were at the root of the rate increase along with the rental costs they pay to the city to lease the water and sewer infrastructure ... and for everyone who hasn't paid their water bills to date. If the city cut out its share that would have helped to lessen the increase, but our fair mayor in this fair city refused, claiming the city really needs the revenue.
Wait a minute. Isn’t that what all the other increases were for? The tax on cigarettes, the additional city sales tax that was due to expire, the fare hike.
The Water Board also warned that it will probably need to raise the rates again another 14.5 percent in 2009 in order to accommodate rising costs as well as to cover for all the deadbeats who can’t afford to pay their increased bills ... or last year’s, for that matter.
I think that the leaders of this city and state need to get on the wagon and figure out a way to balance the budget without bankrupting middle-class families. We’re levied enough.
Here’s an idea. Maybe pols should start with a 15 percent decrease in their salaries this year with another 15 percent next year. They should take a decrease in the amount of perks they receive too. That should save a significant amount of spare change. Just think of all the revenue the city and state could expect if each and every elected official took a pay cut, along with paying their own tolls, (no free E-Z passes), no gas allowance or bloated expense accounts.
Not for nuthin’, but soon it’s gonna be mighty expensive just to take a soak every night. In order to save on our water bill we may have to cut out daily bathing, resorting to bathing only once a month — or hoping for rain. Yech!
E-mail “Not for Nuthin’” at JoannaD@co