Contact me:

Tom (Yusha) Sager
tom (at) tomsager.org

Monday, October 5, 2009

Remarks Concerning Sewer Rates,
and Anti-Environmentalism
(presented at meeting of Rolla City Council)

Members of the Rolla City Council, mayor Jenks and city administrator Butz:

At the Sept. 21 meeting, this Council voted without any serious discussion or dissenting votes to raise city sewer rates by 17% from $3.00 to $3.50 per 1,000 gallons of water. This council did not even allow a citizen to address the Council on this subject before the vote was taken.

Mr. Butz and Mr. Hargis both stated that sewer revenues were down because people were conserving water with measures such as buying more efficient washing machines and taking shorter showers. Messrs. Butz and Hargis and every member of this council present at the meeting apparently felt that the good citizens of Rolla who try to conserve water should be penalized for their efforts. The rest of the world may understand that we face a crisis due to overuse of resources, but no sir, not in Rolla, where citizens are penalized for their conservation efforts.

There are many other ways this council could have addressed falling sewer revenues. Instead of raising rates across the board, this council could have looked into generating electricity from sewage. Many progressive cities are doing this; but not Rolla, with its mid-20th century mentality of encouraging over-consumption.

Or you could have adopted a progressive rate structure which would penalize over-consumption while encouraging conservation. This has been suggested to you many times by council member Hawley; but your disrespect for her and everything she stands for has become legendary.

This is not the first time the citizens of Rolla have been forced to pay dearly for their leaders’ anti-environmentalism.

Ten years ago, Rolla ignored the advice of citizens who asked that the Recreation Centre be built with energy efficiency as a top priority. Instead the City built a rec center that has been rated a 2 on a scale of 1 to 100 by the city's own environmental consultant. The Centre runs perpetually in the red. Much, if not all, of this deficit could have been avoided if energy efficiency had been a priority in constructing the rec center. Each year the city transfers funds to the rec center operating budget that could be used for fire, police, parks, sewers, or simply to reduce the financial burden which citizens pay for city services.

The people of Rolla pay dearly for their city's anti-environmentalism.

In 2005, with little discussion or research on the part of the Council, Rolla signed a contract joining MoPEP which invests heavily in polluting coal-fired electricity generating plants. This contract makes withdrawing from MoPEP a long, expensive, virtually-impossible process. While progressive cities were looking at conservation and non-polluting renewable energy, Rolla, stuck in a mindset belonging to previous centuries, continued to invest in coal. Because of its polluting nature, the price of coal-fired electricity is about to skyrocket. If nothing is done to wean ourselves from this dependence on coal, Rolla's utility rates, abnormally high for central Missouri, will go far higher.

The people of Rolla pay dearly for their city's anti-environmentalism.

If this Council wishes to mend its anti-environmental ways, a good starting point would be to fill the vacancy on the Rolla Board of Public Works with a person who has environmental credentials and the capability of leading RMU into a new era of conservation and renewable energy generation.

This Council is being asked by mayor Jenks to confirm Mr. Albert Crump to the Board of Public Works later in this meeting. The Council packet contains no information about Mr. Crump. I would suggest that before confirming anyone to this position, the Council solicit candidates, review their credentials, and request that the mayor appoint the candidate best able to lead Rolla into a new era of conservation and renewable energy generation.

Thank you for listening to me.