I just read Melissa Dekker's personal column on privatization of the sewer and water systems in Sunnyside. She wrote a good column. But I feel she just does not see the whole picture.
First, let's not put the blame on this city council because the systems all need fixed. That blame should be put on the Mayor Don Hughes days. Nothing was done for preventative maintenance during his tenure or else we would not be having problems today.
I was at this week's meeting. Bob Stockwell and Jim Bridges did their homework. And they did it WELL!
Melissa asks what the hurry is. The sewer system has to be done in two years. On such a major construction project, that is a very short window to work in!
This project is no different than if the Daily Sun News needs a new million dollar computer printer. If Tim Graff, the publisher, waited to the last minute to fix or replace it, you would miss many deadlines. And Tim would probably be looking for a job because he was hired to make that paper function. Just as City Manager Bob Stockwell was. This man has foresight for this town.
If privatization goes through, it will save the taxpayers $2.4 million over 10 years. Plus, this locks them in against inflation in the next 10 years. That is worth a lot in itself.
If they do not opt to privatize, the sewer rates may have to be raised $8.50 a month. That is $102 a year. The people standing at the city council podium this week, such as Mr. Campbell, saying he wastes more than that, these are not the people in this city it will hurt. Most the people talking the other night were citizens from the upper economical class of Sunnyside.
As far I could tell the other night, it was more of a pro-labor forum for the city employees than the city taxpayers. Everytime something good was presented for the city employees, the city employees would clap. Just as if it were a show. I have always said and will always say that the public works department employees are some of the best Sunnyside has.
But let's look at it another way. Without businesses in Sunnyside; there will be less employees. If we do not take control of this sewer and water problem now, existing businesses will suffer and why should any new industry come in? We are facing an extreme drought situation this summer. We don't even know if the Roza will have any water to turn on. Well, the Roza probably irrigates 80 percent of the vineyards and orchards in the Valley. No water, no employment. How many of these workers live in Sunnyside? Alot of them.Will they be able to afford higher sewer and water rates? NO! They probably won't be able to pay what they are being charged now.
If privatization occurs, there are seven employees who will be turned over to Veolia Water. Are these people ever lucky to have their jobs! Why? Because come summer there will be a thousand unemployeed workers for each city worker who doesn't want his job! The city needs the employees they have, that is why the city made sure they got these positions and retirement benefits.
I praise the city management for doing this.
We had people going up to the podium the other night wanting to argue.They had their minds made up without facts. No matter what; they would not change their minds. Well, these people were concerned about themselves, above the taxpayer. If some of these people would have just listened to the presentation, many questions needed not be asked. But their intent was on getting this project shut down. Not at all caring about the needs of the city.
I am not concerned either way it goes. But a true business man that uses much water and sewer has to want this to ensure for the future of his business.
Melissa Dekker contradicted herself in her column. In one sentence you asked what is the hurry. The next sentence she said it is rainy cat and dogs and we have no money. There never was any money in the rainy day fund to amount to the amount needed on this project. We are headed for the future, as it is becoming a world market.
If this city does not change with the times, as it didn't in the Don Hughes era, it will become stagnant. Just as it is today because there was no foresight 10 years ago!
It's been asked how do we know we can trust Veolia Water. I ask Melissa Dekker, how was it Tim Graff trusted to hire you or my daughter Michelle or anyone else at that paper? It is a gut feeling and trust!
/s/ Don Padelford, Sunnyside