by Max Brantley
The Little Rock City Board will take up a sewer rate increase tonight. It likely will be approved.
The Coalition of Little Rock Neighborhoods -- Clayton Johnson, president -- again urges the board to think about the future as well. This rate increase will pay for only a fourth of the eventual capacity of the new treatment facility. Three subsequent phases of the plant will bring sewer service to tens of thousands of acres in western Pulaski County, thus opening the door to more development. Says a letter from Johnson:
Tonight you are choosing to make every ratepayer in Little Rock share equally in the cost of a treatment plant that only serves about 25,000 existing homes. Tens of thousands more homes and other development will emerge over future decades and will be served by this treatment plant in western Pulaski County. Will sewer users in east, central and southwest Little Rock be continually asked to pay higher sewer rates as the treatment plant is expanded?
.. We are, therefore, asking that your 2007 budget should include a feasibility study by engineers and accountants to stimulate adoption of an impact fee schedule for sewer treatment in the Little Maumelle Basin. This approach is clearly feasible based on the practice of other Arkansas cities; it is both a financially sound and fiscally responsible method to finance such infrastructure needs and is also fair to the other sewer users in Little Rock.
But will developers stand for it? That's the decisive question.