Utility charges are fair in
In last week’s paper I wrote about Mike Qualls’ letter on Enumclaw’s supposedly high natural gas prices and how unfortunately PSE failed to give him a crucial fact about their delivery charges. It turns out that Enumclaw’s natural gas rate is the lowest in the state – lower than PSE, Ellensburg, Cascade Natural Gas or Buckley. I met Mike, who seems like a nice man, and asked him about his letter to the paper referencing Enumclaw’s high sewer rates and that supposedly our utilities are some of the highest around. Although municipalities charge in different ways, I think he is off in that comparison too, but only because of a strange coincidence.
Mike claimed that a residence for two pays close to $60, which does happen but is not always the case. I called our utility billing department and they randomly pulled up three residences of a two-person home and charges were $33, $48 and $59. They randomly pulled up a four-person home, which was $49. It’s really a variable depending on water usage.
In discussing this topic with Mike, he compared us to the very low rate for Federal Way, since he has some property there. He is exactly right, but that municipality is somewhat of an anomaly. A representative from Federal Way’s utility department told me they are undercharging, and are not really accounting for the asset age of their system – but that’s not something customers would generally know. Also, Federal Way charges $85.15 for an annual Surface Water Management fee, or stormwater fee, and Enumclaw currently does not.
I checked with various utility departments in the area. Enumclaw’s sewer rate is $16.14 as a base rate and $4.80 per hundred cubic feet (ccf) of water used (based off of wintertime usage). Sumner charges $37.76 for a base rate and $5.55 per ccf over 500 ccf used. Sumner also charges a base rate of $10.01 for stormwater, so Sumner’s is definitely higher. Black Diamond is $50.92 for a base and $4.13 per ccf over 750 ccf, which is higher than us or about the same depending on water usage. Buckley has a flat combined sewer/storm rate of $80.29, Renton’s is $56.64, Auburn’s is $56.30 and Kent’s is $53.64, and all are higher than ours, except the lower ones could be about the same depending on water usage.
For sewer charges, the state of Washington has significant restrictions on water flowing into rivers, and the city is facing increased costs based on state-mandated regulations, so it’s reasonable to expect rates could rise. Also, one should take into account whether storm water charges are part of the billing when making comparisons for sewer rates. Our billing statements are comparable with other municipalities in our area, and I think Enumclaw’s two utility departments treat fairly the citizens they serve.
I shared this letter with Mike, we had some good conversations over it, and he gave his blessings to me submitting it. Not only did PSE not give him all the pertinent information, the municipality for his other property just happens to be way undercharging, and sometimes things go like that. He was obviously joking when suggesting we think twice before putting up hanging baskets, as we should all have some flower baskets to water come springtime, if it ever decides to get here.
How long will competitive rates last?
The three columns on the city’s natural gas utility in last week’s paper were correct. The city does enjoy competitive rates when compared to other gas utilities across the state.
But for how long? State regulators from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission say they are going to levy a multi-million dollar fine against the city for the mayor’s mismanagement of the system. This means our gas rates will increase significantly and our ability to stay competitive will end.
Mayor must recognize city’s needs
While it seems incredible that our Enumclaw mayor failed to recognize the serious and dangerous nature of the problems presented to him by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, there may be an explanation. For some time now, the mayor has seemed totally obsessed with attracting tourists, his Expo Center and his equestrian venture.
In the meantime, we have watched our streets crumble, our drains incapable of handling storm runoff and more and more of our retail businesses leaving the city. When the price of gasoline again reaches the $4 level, what services will be left for us or tourists in the shabby rutted downtown of our once vibrant city?
Our mayor has to be a strong leader who focuses upon the basic needs of our city’s infrastructure, its downtown core and the safety of its citizens. Without such focus and leadership, our city council and our city staff are left frustrated and lack proper direction or support.
We need a new mayor who can recognize our needs and who can implement a program to accomplish them.
kindergarten will be missed
As a mom with a soon-to-be kindergartner I was very disappointed to hear about the loss of full-day kindergarten to our (Enumclaw) school district. I am not however, upset with the school district. The loss of funds is due to the state being unwilling to fund full-day kindergarten and the huge budget shortfall our district and all others are going through right now.
So I would suggest to others who are upset to contact their legislators in Olympia and Washington, D.C. Nationally we must fund state education as well. They are the ones that make the decisions that could choose to fund this very important program. Olympia needs to understand the academic and economical backlash of losing full-day kindergarten. It’s pretty hard to say education is “broken” when we don’t fund something we know is effective. Keeping full-day kindergarten will help prepare children to meet the more rigorous standards being expected of them today.
In addition, if parents are having to spend more money to cover daycare they are not going to be spending money in our state. For a state that relies heavily on sales tax, that is bad news. I have heard a whisper of rumors that the state is considering funding some full-day programs, make your voice heard so our district becomes one of the lucky ones.
Upset with White River
After reading The Courier-Herald two weeks ago, I am so disappointed and extremely upset at how the budget is being handled.
Is cutting P.E., health and music from elementary schools really the best solution? You are cutting teachers who are only going to use another part of the state budget – unemployment. So while your budget is balanced, you are pushing it over to another part of the state budget. It’s like transferrring a credit card balance to a different credit card. The debt is still there, its just not where it was originally.
You need to cut programs/technology/anything else at this point, not teachers and important classes. When did P.E. and health get so low on our list of importance? P.E. and music have been a part of education for a long time and for a good reason. Part of being a balanced person is mental, as well as physical. Part of the solution for the obesity problem in our country starts with elementary physical education and health.
If we want to raise a generation of couch potatoes, then let’s keep moving in this direction. After all, if they have high math, science and reading scores who cares if they have heart disease, diabetes and asthma for the rest of their lives. At least they will be able to compute their state disability checks correctly.
I hope I am not the only one voicing my opinion. Don’t expect me to lay around and watch as you take away important classes from my kids (I had P.E. as a kid and I have the energy to fight for it.
Michele D. Wallen
Government has to stop the presses
Money is simply a medium for exchange. For money to be honest and useful, it has to be a commodity valued by all. It also must be divisible for small transactions; durable to survive many exchanges; transportable so you can use it anywhere; and relatively scarce so no one can dilute its value by flooding the country with it.
Gold and silver have all these characteristics. Paper doesn’t. It’s easy to flood the country with unbacked paper money or electronic entries. When that happens, as it is happening today, the value of everyone’s dollars goes down. That’s why products cost more at the supermarket and elsewhere. If a counterfeiter did this, the government would stop him. But if the government and the Federal Reserve combine to do it, and the people don’t realize what’s happening, the process continues.
This is inflation. America’s founders never intended that anyone would have power to create inflation and the U.S. Constitution does not permit such a crime.
A man inherited $10,000 in 1950. He could have bought a home with the money, but he put it in the bottom drawer and forgot about it. Fifty years later, he retrieved his $10,000, and it wasn’t enough to put a down payment on a nice home.
Where did the value of his inheritance go? It was stolen from him by government through a process called inflation. Inflation is an increase in the amount of currency that lowers its value. Its effect is rising prices. But politicians and the media always tell Americans that inflation is rising prices. Not so! It’s almost like trying to prove that wet streets cause rain.
The government, and its partner the Federal Reserve, constantly print more dollars to pay for huge deficits. The new dollars steal value from your dollars and most people don’t realize what has happened. Deficit spending has to stop and so do the government’s printing presses.
Edwin “Stormy” Storm
Initiative requires that doctors lie
If you voted “yes” on I-1000, then you voted to have doctors lie.
I-1000 requires physicians to lie on the death certificate, putting another cause of death rather than physician-assisted suicide. If it is truly “death with dignity” then why would the doctor have to lie?
More importantly, if your doctor is willing to lie (remember that someone who lies is a liar), then what makes you think they won’t lie about other things? If they lack the ethical character to be truthful, then they may well think: six months or three years seems like such a trifling difference, let’s just tell the patient six months and be done with things. If we bump them off a bit early, that is really no big deal and think of all the money we can save the health insurance company.
I chose to not participate. I will make sure that my family goes to a physician that chooses not to participate. Shouldn’t you do the same?
Mark J. Snell, M.D.