Reader: Can seniors pay for water rate hike? | News, Sports, Jobs

The callous disregard for seniors in our community by city officials was more than disturbing to read in the September 17 Inter-Mountain article on the water hike.

It is evident that some of the officials serving on the council are far from the reality faced by seniors when trying to live on a steady income. Her disdain for those on a steady income was palpable in her comments.

Citizens who have worked all their lives and served this community well are cast aside without a thought for how to buy food or medicine. If you don’t understand how an instant rate hike of $15.20 a month can be devastating to a household budget, then you are very privileged indeed. This is not how our government should work for us.

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The fact of the matter is that the city made some very bad decisions regarding our new waterworks and is now, for at least the second time, passing heavy costs of those decisions on to the citizens. Well, this decision may be based on bad information presented to the Council, but nonetheless we must deal with the consequences.

Our governor is sitting on a big pot of money that he has been desperately trying to give away to corporations and the wealthy through his plan to cut personal property taxes and through Amendment 2, which is due in November. Why hasn’t the city council, along with other municipalities facing similar water problems, asked the governor to help?

There are ARPA funds that have been gifted by the City Council to many worthy charities in Elkins – ARPA funds can be used for water infrastructure so why did they give them away before the water issues were resolved?

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Instead, city treasurer Tracy Judy said customers should seek help from Catholic charities, DHHR, the Salvation Army and Helping Hands. Why do these nonprofits have to pay for the city’s unreasonable increases in water rates? The city treasurer says so “There are programs out there, but people have to want to help themselves.”

There are funds that should be used for city water infrastructure without burdening seniors trying to live on less than $1,500 a month. These comments illustrate how the City of Elkins is blaming poor planning on seniors just trying to survive.

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Senior Fixed Income $1,500

Basic monthly bills:

Electric $145

Water/Sewage/Trash $68 (before the hike)

Phone/Cable/Internet $250

Car insurance $130

Mortgage $350

Additional Insurance $242

Medicare Part B $170

Total $1,355

That leaves $145 for groceries, medicines, entertainment, gas, holiday gifts, home repairs and lawn care.

See how unreasonable a 32% rate hike is for our retired seniors? I urge the Council to urge the judiciary to come up with innovative solutions to water infrastructure problems. It is time to update our state laws to address current water infrastructure issues.

Mandy Weirich


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