The City Commission heard testimony on the two proposals placed before them on the scope of the Water Utility Capital Projects and funding options. One option, better known as Option #2, was to take the minimum loan amount to cover the matching fund requirements for a $2.1M Department of Health Grant. The other option, best known as Option #3 was to take the $2.1 M grant and accept a $6.9M loan at a 1% interest rate.
Testimony in opposition of Option#3:
- Water and sewer rates have lowered the returns on rental properties.
- Increased water rates place a burden on rate payers.
- The Commission should survey the rate payers for their opinion.
- Shelton’s water rates are the highest in the State of Washington
- There is no encouragement to build in the City.
- Option #3 is not cost effective.
Testimony for Option#3 was;
- “It’s the water”, an investment in our future.
- Clean water, clean air and a clean country side are expensive.
Testimony unrelated to either option:
- Pay off the existing debt first
- Voting on increases should go out to the public.
- Connection fees are too high.
While casting their vote the Commissioners gave their reasons for their vote: Moore voted for Option #3, and stated “Even though the majority of people she spoke to were against Option #3 and the increase in rates”, Moore went on to remind the public, regardless of the vote or the acceptance of the grant rate were going to go up.” Moore did not like option #2, as the liability of the additional $5M to meet the comprehensive plan was not predictable, and she wants investors to come to Mason County. ”What does it say if we do not have confidence in our own future?”
Olsen, also voted for Option #3, said his decision was a financial decision, and was “for the greater good of the community, not just now, but for our kids and grandkids.” Olsen said he admired the previous commission for getting the sewer in through all the controversy.”
Mayor Cronce voted against option #3, stating he does not work for the government or the City staff, he works for the people. Cronce is concerned with the amount of debt, saying “the City must stop borrowing money.” There is no assurance if we build it that they will come, there has been no growth in Shelton. What if one of the large businesses moves out of Shelton? The Mayor’s final comment on the issue was “if you wanted status quo, you have the wrong Mayor”, and when the next request for $7M comes before him he will vote it down!”
Option #3 passed 2-0.
May 13, 2014/JE KMAS News