by Max Brantley
The Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods has endorsed a proposed sewer rate increase and speaks approvingly of a companion impact fee to build a reserve for future growth. A welcome step toward the 20th century. Is the City Board and mayor still in the 19th?
The explanation follows.
LETTER FROM CGLRN
Dear Mayor Stodola and City Directors,
The Coalition of Greater Little Rock Neighborhoods met February 11 and strongly endorsed the pending increases in sewer rates, and urges their speedy adoption. Officials of Little Rock Wastewater Utility briefed Coalition members about their proposal, and we were pleased to learn of the changes proposed for fairness.
The Coalition supports the new rate structure, by which users are billed in accordance with usage more closely. Residential customers ought not subsidize non-residential customers, as in the current structure. Those making greater use of the service ought to pay more - and those using the least should be reduced accordingly. This proposal achieves that goal. We appreciate the fact the proposed structure would reduce rates for 10 percent of residential customers.
The companion proposals are also excellent examples of public policy-making for the common good. The proposed Line Assistance Fund is the tool that utility officials propose to get older lines replaced more quickly, and we like the benefit to the utility as well as the customer. When a tested line fails, notice is to go to the customer, to replace their line linking their home to the main in the street. With this proposal, the utility would invest up to $1,500 on the cost, which averages $1,500 to $2,500. That enables the utility to delay building a costly new treatment plant, because the entire system functions adequately for a longer time. The customer gets help with a major capital cost that remains with the home - a permanent part of our city infrastructure.
The $229 Wastewater Impact Fee is a good first step to a fair approach to funding sewer infrastructure, and we are pleased to endorse this proposal. Little Rock has crossed into the next drainage basin, and from now on, development westward will occur in this basin, having used up the first, which served Little Rock since its founding. Wastewater officials informed us that the urban growth capacity of this basin equals the current city in its size, so they plan for a doubling of our city in the future, across west Pulaski County. Bringing newcomers into our existing infrastructure does require a payment from them, to recognize the benefit they gain from having a modern sewer system available to them instantly upon making that connection.
Kathy Wells, President