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Saturday, December 09, 2006

Bypassing Cap: Disproportionate and Ill Conceived

Open Letter to City Council
By Butch Neylon

Your recent decision to remove the edge to edge paving from the construction costs of the STRP special assessments, a correct action I might add, has apparently caused some problems regarding where to get the funds to do the actual paving.

When I first brought this to your attention back on July 16th of this year, I had discussed using the existing repaving budget, with several Councilors, as being the source for the money to replace the funds that will not be coming from the special assessments. At that time it appeared that the repaving budget would have to be increased to cover this and subsequent district repaving as the STRP continues.

When Councilor Popoff proposed this action he clearly stated that there may be a problem with the spending cap caused by removing the paving from the special assessments. The possibility of using a revenue or general obligation of the Utility was brought up as a viable alternative source for obtaining the monies needed for the paving. However, it may not be appropriate to use the utility budget for paving roads as this may be viewed as an attempt to circumvent the cap and thereby increase spending.

Now the Council has passed a measure increasing utility rates by 2% each year over the next four years to offset the cost of paving these roads. Unfortunately this method of increasing rates is discriminatory. Those residents who pay both sewer and water rates will pay a disproportionate share into this fund. Those water customers who use more water will pay a disproportionate share into this fund.

Regardless of weather or not the Utility can fund road paving, the only fair way to fund this is by having every citizen pay the same amount. That cannot be done by raising the money by adding 2% to the utility rates. This really should be funded by an ad-valorem tax.


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