City must justify fee increase

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

In a time when many Americans are struggling to make ends meet and trying to find ways to cut expenses, Ironton’s City Council is asking residents to hand out more money.

Council has adopted first reading of ordinances that would raise water and garbage bills each of the next three years.

Trash collection rates would increase from $9.50 per month to $10.50 a month beginning in March. There would also be 50-cent hikes at the beginning of 2010 and 2011. Officials say garbage collection fees were last raised in 1998.

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Water rates would increase from $4.40 per 1,000 gallons to $4.70 per 1,000 gallons beginning in March. There would be a 30-cent hike each year for 2010 and 2011. Water rates were last raised in 2001.

While the increase may not seem like a lot to some people, for others this could be the final straw in their already cash-strapped budgets.

City leaders argue that these services haven’t increased in years and that Ironton’s rates are among the lowest in the region.

But that isn’t exactly a fair comparison. City leaders have to realize that looking purely at the rates ignores the big picture.

Sure, our water and garbage fees may be low. But Ironton has a fire fee. And a municipal fee. And a sewer fee. And a stormwater fee. And an administrative fee.

All those show up on the same water bill.

So, to say our rates are the lowest, when comparing to other communities that may not have the same structure, simply isn’t fair.

Plus, an increase in each of the next three years basically sends the message that city leaders are content to just keep asking for more money rather than looking for other solutions.

Now is time for city leaders to show residents exactly what they have done to cut expenses and operate efficiently in these departments before citizens are asked to dig deeper in a time they don’t have anywhere else to dig.