The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

April 26, 2013

LEVINE: City faces competitive disadvantage with higher sewer rates

(Continued)

The higher the rates, the less bills will be paid. It’s a vicious cycle, and Clinton residents have been stuck in this ongoing saga for years.

The city finance department has a job to do. That department is focusing on making the city solvent, which is finally happening after years of mismanagement.

City Council members have that responsibility, too. But, they must balance that against the will of the citizens and, in turn, become negotiators. So when they denied the increase a few weeks ago, it should have set up a negotiation between the finance department and the City Council.

Bargaining for a lower rate increase while investigating other options, like using more of the local option sales tax to offset some of the effect on taxpayers, would have been a better result than just giving in and reversing their earlier decision because some future projects may be delayed.

How much would a reallocation of money used for future streets repairs be worth to residents?

Unfortunately, there’s no end in sight to increases. I conceded that long ago.

But the problem with the escalating costs of living in Clinton and reduced benefits is that it doesn’t help attract residents.

The city will bend over backwards to give away future tax revenues from incoming industry. But when it comes to investigating every option available to help future and current residents, there’s barely a mention of the possible solutions other than the typical “don’t blame me, I don’t want to do this, I have to,” argument.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for providing tax incentives to attract businesses. We need new industry.

But we also need citizens. Population decreases have been well documented and the city of Clinton is far off the pace set by other towns in Iowa. From 2000 to 2012, Clinton lost almost 1,000 residents.

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With the Clinton County Justice Coordinating Commission and the Clinton County Board of Supervisors discussing proposals to construct a new jail, do you think the time has come for Clinton County to construct such a facility?

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