Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Time for the End of an Errror

They always demand special treatment and government handouts. The current demand for corporate welfare is in the form of subsidized water rates below cost of service and no contribution to help provide lifeline water rates for low-income elderly residents. If they don’t get their way, they whine that Fayetteville is unfriendly to business and threaten to leave.

This tactic has worked in the past, and our elected officials have caved in to the demands by the Chamber for special privileges for big business and industrial corporations. Residential users now pay $2.81 per 1,000 gallons of water, and large corporate and industrial users pay only $1.60. Mayor Coody recommended increasing every class of customers by the same percentage and permanently locking in this inequity that has the elderly and working families paying 175% more and subsidizing the cheaper rates for massive consumption by large corporate users. We don't need out of state consultants to know that's just plain wrong.

It is past time to put a halt to the Big Lie. The citizens of Fayetteville are not buying it anymore, because we have the facts. No one thinks that Bentonville is "unfriendly" to business, and they are doing quite well. They charge large industrial customers $2.86 per 1,000 gallons, and residential customers pay only 33 cents more than that. So these corporate extortionists threatening to leave Fayetteville better not even think about moving to business-friendly Bentonville, where their rates would immediately increase by almost 180%. Both Alderman Cook's cost-of-service plan and Alderman Jordan's flat rate proposal would result in rates lower than Bentonville for both industrial and residential customers.

It is time to end the cruel practice of forcing residential customers to pay for the special deals given to big corporations. The Fayetteville City Council should adopt sensible water and sewer rate structures that support the important public policies of lifeline rates for low-income elderly and conservation incentives for everyone. Responsible business and commercial customers will not object to paying their fair share and supporting the lifeline rates. Only those who put greed above fundamental fairness and the good of the community will complain, but they should not be allowed to prevail this time.

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