Water Company Warrant Articles 1 OF 4
Well, now we’ve come full circle. If you recall this email/blog campaign started with Steve Agar telling me he had a plan to get the water company deficit under control. His plan was to ask the BoS to saddle all the towns taxpayers with the water company debt. Because it was revealed that there was so much money unaccounted for in the water company, the BoS had to say no. Following the money led to the discovery that Jack Muskrat was not billing properly. This failure to bill has cost the taxpayers well over two hundred thousand in the last four years alone. Now the water commissioners have a new plan. Two of the water commissioners, who also happen to be water users, started a citizen’s petition to saddle the whole town with the water company debt. This is the text of the article that was put on the warrant.
ARTICLE 3: To see if the Town will vote to have all of the taxpayers of the Town of Egremont pay the debt service for the Egremont Water Department, or to take any other action relative thereto.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I do not believe that these people have the audacity to ask us to pay for the entire debt of the water company after they have lost so much money. We are already responsible for any budget shortfall; now they want us to sign up for the entire debt. If we vote to take on that debt it guarantees Egremont taxpayers will be subsidizing the water company in the amount of $117,000.00 per year for the next ten years. It will also mean that this $117,000.00 will not be considered in the water company annual budget and make it appear as though the water company is profitable which it has never been.
Richard had a post on his blog regarding the original appeal from the desperate water users when they convinced the town to cosign the loan for the water company. [This is what we and others were told, again and again: “help your neighbors, i e water user, by simply allowing them to use the Town’s balance sheet to purchase this private water company and we, the users, will be responsible for its cost. Otherwise, we are likely to lose our water source”. Egremont’s non-water users reached out and helped their neighbors keep their water supply.] As they say, no good deed goes unpunished. After this promise of no cost to the taxpayer the water users now ask that we pay 1.17 million dollars. This after we have already subsidized the water company to the tune of a half million dollars.
Let’s look at who is subsidizing who. We are told that there are some users who are having trouble paying their water bill, and it’s true. According to Steve Agar there are about a dozen people who fall behind regularly. What we are not told is that many of the users are wealthy residents and second homeowners. Do these wealthy users really need to be subsidized? Yet this is exactly what we are being asked to do; subsidize water for the wealthy.
Now let’s look at the taxpayers who are being asked to subsidize the water for the wealthy. We are told that we are a wealthy town, and this is true. There are many wealthy residents and second homeowners here. What we are not being told is that there are many taxpayers who are having trouble paying their taxes. I had a comment on my (BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR) article. This woman said it perfectly “Many people who say they don't mind paying more aren't really good neighbors because they are thinking of their personal bank book. They aren't thinking of their elderly neighbors just barely making it. They aren't thinking of our young families who work three and four jobs to try to hold on to the American dream, or the single moms or those of us who make a third less than we did 10 years ago. To blindly assume that all the families and neighbors here have extra cash to give for something they will never use and were promised they would never have to pay for, is not being a good neighbor.” This economy is tough enough; do we really need to have the struggling taxpayers subsidizing the wealthy water users for the sake of a dozen people who have trouble paying? Am I the only one who sees something wrong here?
The bottom line is that we the people have to direct our elected officials to spend our tax dollars in a fair and equitable manner. We have already been saddled with this water company boondoggle once and we’ll be paying for it for years to come. We do not have to burden ourselves with even more debt for a water company that cannot sustain itself without taxpayer subsidies. This article needs to be defeated. Everyone needs to get out to the town meeting and vote some sense into these people. You must also motivate your friends and neighbors to come out and VOTE NO ON ARTICLE 3