Our View: Water rate hike price of maintaining quality

December 22, 2012

As much as we all want the cost of necessities to go down, or at least stay the same, our economic reality dictates that those hopes are not going to materialize.

One reason is that, over time, infrastructures need to be upgraded to meet new and greater standards. This is the case in the Sedalia Board of Public Works’ decision this week to increase water rates.

As reported by the Democrat’s Emily Jarrett: “The increase will amount to 12 percent this year and 4 percent for the next four years, netting about $350,000 in additional revenue based on last year’s water usage numbers. That money will go toward major capital improvement projects, including a renovation of the Water Department to make it ADA-compliant, purchasing backup generators and annual water line replacements.”

In addition, the water tower on Main Street needs significant work, including sandblasting to remove corrosion.

Board President Jack Robinson told us: “The infrastructure things are important — they have to be done. We can’t ignore it or we’ll get to the point where nothing you want to drink is coming out of the faucet, and we don’t want to have that.”

Some residents have questioned the board’s decision to issue $1 an hour raises to Water Department workers at the same time it was considering a rate increase.

“We started on raises four to five months ago, but didn’t finish up,” Robinson said. “It is unfortunate timing, but we were talking about rate increases at that time, as well.”

Robinson also stressed that the rate hikes do not go into effect until April.

And when those increases do kick in, in the first year they will amount to about two fewer vending machine sodas per month on residential bills. After that, the increases will be a little more than 50 cents per month each year for the following four years. We find this a reasonable sacrifice to ensure clean and plentiful water for our community.

Is the cost of living going up? Yes. But along with it is the long-term increase in quality of living. We’ll drink to that.