“Bad Timing” was what was on my mind at the four-hour April 2 Los Alamos County Council meeting. I get it we need to improve our infrastructure soon and increases on our utility bills will come eventually, especially knowing that after all there is a 20 year projected increase on the table as of now.
As I sat there and listened to legitimate customer complaints on some of the most outrageous billing errors that are happening I was thinking for sure the County Council members know and realize this is really not a good time to implement a water rate increase for potable and non-potable water usage. Council members even had very encouraging comments supporting holding off on a increase throughout the meeting listed below.
- “I feel like there are some issues in house that need to get sorted”
- “I know this rate increase needs to happen… but I’m not supporting it tonight.”
- “They’re raising our rates, and they can’t even get my meter read accurately”
- “We need to get this billing system figured out…”
One councilor even requested from the DPU a report on how it’s addressing the billing inaccuracies, budget billing and public assistance for residents who may not be able to keep up with the annual increases.
I thought it was pretty solid that the council was not going to make a decision on the increase due to the fact that it was “bad timing” and it was surely going to make some consumers angry. But low and behold all voted “yes” except for one and the one who voted “no” only made one of the above comments. Pretty much confirmed what the few people I invited to attend the meeting told me – “What for? It’s a waste of time. Council doesn’t take public comment seriously.”
Here’s more! The Department of Public Utilities responded to at least six water leaks in the White Rock section of its water distribution system within the last two weeks. Ok, so what have we been spending our money on? Irresponsible spending and not the infrastructure? Art work? Like the one approved at this very meeting which by the way will be erected and than have to be moved for updates at Ashley Pond. Again “bad timing.” Yes I understand funds come from different pots for certain projects, but timing and strategic planning can really benefit all parties involved.
Deputy Utility Manager Robert Westervelt said to the council at the meeting. “Already we see the affects of people cutting back on water and we want to maintain a beautiful town site. It takes water to do that.” I wonder why? Why water my lawn if I’m going to penalize myself to do it with a higher water bill then I was paying before? Maybe it’s time for Los Alamos to use more gravel for landscaping and water our golf course with recycled water?
Hey, I’m just throwing out ideas to start conserving and preventing future increases and to pull the reins on our Council who by the way we, the people, voted in. Well, a high percentage of us did. I personally voted for only one Council member.
My whole point is yes, we need to keep our town looking nice, yes we need infrastructure improvements. A piece of art work once in a while is okay. But there is a “good time and a bad time” to implement an increase to the citizens and NOW is like the worst time to do it. But our council who were voted in by the citizens felt otherwise.
Oh, and by the way, now is not the time to bring up a water park that we don’t need in White Rock – “Bad Timing.”
Paul A. Jaramillo