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Nash: Town Council's attitude towards utility rate payers is indefensible

  • Written by Jeremy Nash
He just about said you shouldn't live here....
If you can't afford to pay the utilities you shouldn't live... is what I heard when I listened to the November 2nd Town council meeting. At 1 hour and 45 minutes into the meeting they start discussing an increase in our utility rates. Here is a link to the meeting.  Everyone should take 30 minutes and have a listen for themselves.
As you listen to our elected officials voice their opinions and attempt to get their spin straight. Keep in mind a single family residence in the town of Friday Harbor that uses around 4,000 gallons of water a month, and places two garbage cans for collection, the town bill is going to be around $250 a month. That's $3,000 per year. For many of the Town residents $3,000 represents an entire month's labor.  They work for an entire month every year so they can have clean water and flush a toilet. 
When Al Nash was on Council he had been quoted as saying, "I worry about my Aunt Edna, let's keep her in mind as we make our decisions." His Aunt Edna was my Grandmother. My Grandmother was the most kind and generous of people and you would have never known but she survived on a small fixed income for a long time.
Disregard the family tree stuff if it is confusing. We can sit on their benches in front of the drugstore and Ponder what was another time. What I'm trying to say is our tiny town has 2,700 residents many of whom struggle on a fixed income.  Even more hard-working families are having a difficult time making ends meet. For them a small $10 a month increase is a huge $120 a year. That's a tank of fuel and a after school snack. 
Town Utility rates have been increasing for a long time and it's not sustainable. How much is too much? Water sewer and garbage provided by the town of Friday Harbor is a public good.
If your meter is shut off and you have no service you still have a minimum monthly must pay of around $200 a month. This stays with the property. It is must pay or sell and move if you can't. It's not like car maintenance or paying your cable bill. You don't put your property at risk if you don't pay your cable bill.
We really need people to start thinking outside of the box. We need recognize this as a crisis of disproportionate burden and somehow get the rates headed in the other direction.  Maybe we need a radical change and restructure who pays what. There has to be answers out there.
It was disappointing to see the Mayor and council capitulating to the ol, it is as it is and that's how it's going to be so, "Get your showers in now!" they joked and laughed.  Indefensible.
Jeremy Nash