The callous disregard for seniors in our community by city officials was more than troubling to read in the Sept. 17 Inter-Mountain article regarding the water hike.
It is evident that some of the officials serving on council are far removed from the realities seniors face while trying to live on a fixed income. Their contempt for those that live on a fixed income was palpable in their comments.
Citizens that have worked their entire lives and served this community well are tossed aside without concern for how they will be able to purchase food or medicine. If you don’t understand how an immediate rate hike of $15.20 a month can be devastating to a household budget then you are very privileged indeed. This is not how our government should be working for us.
The fact is that the city made some very poor decisions in regard to our new water plant and now, for at least the second time, high costs for those decisions are being passed on to residents. Now that decision may have been based on bad information that was provided to the council but nonetheless, we are dealing with the consequences.
Our governor is sitting on a large pot of money he has been desperately trying to give away to businesses and the wealthy through his personal property tax cut plan and through Amendment 2 that is on the ballot in November. Why hasn’t the city council, with other municipalities faced with similar water issues, petitioned the governor for relief?
There are ARPA funds that were given away to many worthy nonprofits in Elkins by the City Council — ARPA funds can be used for water infrastructure, so why did they give it away before the water issues were settled?
Instead, the City Treasurer Tracy Judy said that customers should seek help from Catholic Charities, DHHR, the Salvation Army, and Helping Hands. Why is it up to these charitable organizations to pay for the unreasonable water rate hikes by the city? The City Treasurer goes on to say that “There are programs out there, but people need to want to help themselves.”
There are funds out there that should be used for city water infrastructure without burdening seniors that are trying to live on less than $1,500 a month. These comments illustrate how the City of Elkins is shifting the blame for poor planning onto seniors that are just trying to survive.
Senior Fixed Income $1,500
Basic monthly bills:
Water/Sewer/Garbage $68 (before the hike)
Car Insurance $130
Supplemental Insurance $242
Medicare Part B $170
That leaves $145 for food, medicine, entertainment, gas, Christmas presents, home repairs, lawn care.
See how unreasonable a 32% rate hike is on our retired seniors? I urge council to push Gov. Justice for innovative solutions to water infrastructure problems. It is time to update our state laws to address the current issues with water infrastructure.