By Elisha Dorfsmith
I was happy to join the Oracle Inn Podcast tonight for a discussion on the many aspects of local food and urban farming. Topics covered included local rules and regulations, challenges to local food production, food education and competing with large corporations. You can watch the entire show here:
By Elisha Dorfsmith
As the Flagstaff City Council gears up to focus on a potential water rate increase for much needed infrastructure upgrades, two issues have moved to the forefront of the conversation and are sparking debate among locals. First, should Flagstaff’s tiered rates for residents be extended to large commercial users like NAU and Purina and how much should the rates increase…3% or 7%?
Do Large Water Users Deserve A Discounted Rate?
The City has not spent a lot of time discussing the idea of extending tiered water rates to commercial and other heavy users but as today’s edition of the Daily Sun reports, environmental groups are pushing hard to make sure the idea gets more attention. Their feeling is that tiered rates encourage conservation and will lead to less water usage.
Water is a very limited, precious resource in Northern Arizona. The more water used, the more the City will have to start looking into very expensive projects like the pipeline from Red Gap Ranch. Looking strictly at water, it does not make financial sense for the City to encourage more usage by offering a discounted rate to the biggest water users in town.
To put things in perspective, the Daily Sun reports that NAU pays $4.43 per 1,000 gallons for the water they use. Since they are not on a tiered rate like average residents, their rate is consistent and even. On the other hand, if I were to use as much water as they do, I would be paying $12.02 for every 1,000 gallons. Of course, there is no way I could conceivably use the same amount of water that NAU uses but it begs the question…are these rates fair and why should large users get special treatment?
I think it is safe to suggest that the City offers the flat rate on water to heavy users as an incentive or subsidy to get them into town or keep them here. They probably feel that these large users create jobs and contribute enough in property and sales tax to make up for the discount. It seems like a “you help us so we’re going to help you” kind of deal. If so, that is a form of cronyism that should not be tolerated. If a business cannot afford to operate under the same rules and rates as average residents (remember, you and I get fined for watering on the wrong day) then maybe they should go out of business. I don’t believe in too big or too important to fail.
It is wrong for exemptions and special treatment to be written into the law for certain groups and companies. If the City can’t find it in their heart to make things fair by going that route, then maybe they should get rid of my tiered rates and let me water on any day of the week that I want to. All or nothing. No special treatment for anybody.
Should We Pay Or Should Our Children Pay?
When the City of Flagstaff spoke to Flagstaff Liberty Alliance about rate increases last month they focused a lot of their presentation on the pros and cons of a 3% or 7% rate increase. The argument for a 3% increase is that future generations will be using the infrastructure and it is only fair to put much of the debt on them. The argument for a 7% increase is that we have put off these critical repairs for years and now the bill has come due. We need to step up and fix this without going into any more debt than we have to. Which is the more economically sound and responsible route to go?
Water is a critical service provided by the City that everyone in Flagstaff uses and needs. I won’t go into philosophical discussions on privatization or what cuts can be made in the budget to find funds for our crumbling infrastructure because there is zero chance of either happening. I am taking the need for this increase at face value and asking, is it possible that tiered rates across the board and a 7% increase up front are the more libertarian positions to take?
I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
“Don’t Mortgage My Future” is a sign often used at Flagstaff Liberty Alliance events. Is putting more debt on our children something we really want to keep doing?