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Now is not the time

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By Ralph Damiani

The county council’s rejection of the utilities department’s request for a sewer rate hike was the right thing to do.

In a 4-3 vote Tuesday night the council rejected a proposed ordinance that would have increased local sewer rates. This is not the time to be burdening people with more expenses.

And it is not like the county is hurting for money, they are pretty much swimming in it right now.

The increase would have provided some  $300,000 of revenue for maintenance and building cash reserves.

But this is hard to justify with the money the county has. And considering the state of the economy, increasing an average residential bill to about $45 a month at this time is not appropriate.

It was nice to see Councilor Vincent Chiravalle raise the issue as to why our rates are so much higher than others in the area.

We have no problem with paying for the first-class services we have, but there are limits as to what even the people here can afford.

Again, now is not the time for higher taxes – that will be coming soon from a state and federal government near you.

John Arrowsmith, utility manager, said it was not fair to compare the counties of Santa Fe and Los Alamos because the sewer plant in Santa Fe was paid for with grant money, versus the $13 million loan that Los Alamos County took out to pay for its plant.

But again, that does not wash. And the council was right in taking a slow approach to increases.

We have to agree with Councilor Nona Bowman who said she was very concerned with increasing sewer rates because of the economic problems that the nation is facing.

That is the right approach, and the right thing to do.