Wednesday, January 2, 2002
I find statements like "the sewer funds are all broke" and "we spent all our money on debt service and (sewage plant) construction and that's why were in the hole" to be less then genuine. I haven't had an opportunity to review operational costs, the source of funds for expansion and maintenance, or the level of systems development charges assessed to new residential and commercial developments, so I also can't say who is really paying the bill. And it is clear from the recent article in the Hood River News, that the City of Hood River is also mum on the subject. Specifically, the subject of a new water main ($19 million) does not indicate whether the upgrade is a maintenance issue or an expansion issue or a combination of both.
When a utility fee increase of 45 percent is proposed by city government, it seems reasonable that more information be provided than anecdotal statements that fall well short of an explanation. Why are enterprise fund levels so low? When did the city start charging system development fees? Is the city in the habit of giving away system capacity in the name of job creation or as a way of encouraging new residential development?
Could it be that the city failed to establish and or increase system development charges soon enough? And now the only way needed upgrades can be accomplished is to ding existing development twice? When new development fails to pay its fair share of future maintenance and expansion costs, existing development is generally left to pick up the tab.
In addition to comparing fees imposed by like-sized communities, the other side of the equation includes system development fees and the resulting enterprise funds that are to be made available for maintenance, upgrades and expansion. Rather than applauding past decision to maintain low and or nonexistent development fees, understand that the proposed 45 percent increase represents the actual un-funded costs everyone will now pay.
Why is the city now coming forward with the proposed increase? Is it because the issue was neglected for far to long?
Perhaps the city council should pass yet another resolution, this time to pay a competent engineering firm to analyze current systems development fees. Excess system capacity isn't a commodity that is given away because a local realtor thinks development fees are too high.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge