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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

All Wet

A reader raised the following concern this week:

Apparently there was a vote on the water rate last night (Monday, May 7th) and the Mayor voted no, saying she didn't support a millage increase?  That wasn't a millage increase.

The water rate has nothing to do with a millage.  The rates are set by the City of Detroit.  The City of Troy has been a benchmark city in terms of keeping our water rates low.  The recommendations from the City in terms of avoiding peak use times, odd/even watering, etc., all have been pivotal in terms of keeping our rates low. When I worked at the City, other municipalities were coming to learn from us how we accomplished this.

To clarify, the votes on Monday were both for the annual budget AND a separate agenda item vote on a water service increase.  Within that annual budget vote were millage increases for two specific areas -- the refuse collection and the debt service administration.  Neither one of these millage increases funnels into the GENERAL fund...both pay ONLY for the increase of costs to the refuse collection and toward paying debt service.

[Somewhat relevant side note] It might also interest you to note that many of the city's commercial/industrial taxpayers also pay the refuse tax, but they NEVER USE THE CITY'S REFUSE SERVICE.  The Somerset Collection, for example, is our city's largest commercial taxpayer.  They pay the city for refuse collection they DO NOT USE, then contract out their own collection service.  They are a donor to our refuse collection, and when you pro-rate out the total cost of picking up our trash divided by the number of entities that pay for it...that helps KEEP OUR OVERALL RATES LOWER.  I've never heard them complain about a) paying for refuse in the first place or b) complaining about paying the nominal increases that come up periodically or c) helping us pay less.  Perhaps we should stop charging them and see what that does to our rate...who's happy the way it is NOW?

Back to that  rate increase for our water service.  This is what is called a "pass through" increase -- the city is passing on to the end user the EXACT increase the city is being charged.  There is no profit made, there is no millage tied to simply covers the increase to the cost of using water.  The rates are not set by the City of Troy.  They are set, as stated above, by the City of Detroit Water and Sewage Department from whom we receive our water.

Using water is a privilege we enjoy as citizens in a free country.  Using water in Troy is even better...Troy is considered, as the reader mentions above, the leader in the area for conserving water, encouraging residents to do the same, and thus keeps overall consumption rates down.  When overall consumption is down...we all PAY LESS.  And we only pay for what we use ourselves.

Daniels voted down the balanced budget.
Daniels voted down the water rate increase.
She was the lone dissenting vote on both.

Had the council as a whole had voted like Daniels on even just the water increase, we'd have a quite different situation here.  Consider the words of another reader: 

If they (the city) didn't pass that Detroit Water and Sewer Department rate increase along to the water customers, then the excess would have to come out of our tax payments to the city. You can see how unfair this would be when comparing a homeowner with no sprinkler system to one with a sprinkler system and/or a pool. "Why should I have to subsidize my neighbors lawn sprinklers?"

Well, Daniels would rather we all subsidize each others use.  She wants to bleed the infamous "fund balance" to cover this increase.

Like she wanted to do with the refuse increase...
Like she wanted to do with the debt service increase...
Like she wanted to do with keeping the library open seven days...
Like she wanted to do with keeping the library open in the first place...

As my grandfather used to life, either you pay or you pay.  We've paid reasonable amounts of money over the years to get stellar services in Troy.  People like Mayor Daniels have now made sure we pay a lot less to get a lot less.  And now she wants to make sure we don't pay one dime more so we can eventually get what that will yield:


Would rather pay a little bit now...or pay a lot more later on every level for not doing so?

Let's vote no to political ideologues like our mayor.  Let's vote to Recall Janice Daniels.

1 comment:

  1. Daniels continues to view fund balance as some sort of magical fund that will solve all the financial woes of the city. Fund balance are emergency funds. With the loss of state shared revenue, and the pending elimination of the personal property tax, municipalities in Michigan are going to be depending on fund balance more than ever. This is particularly true in Troy as no other areas can be cut without drastically reducing service levels. Sustainability is further threatened by the lack of revenue. Janice Daniels and her genius crew, rather than do the dirty work to fix this solution have an attitude of "let's just use fund balance to fix everything and let someone else worry when it is all gone." This is not good government. I feel sorry for whoever takes over as the fulltime city manager. That individual will have their hands full.