Letter at length, March 31

Keep meals tax to prevent even higher sewer and water rates

Jeff Golden's March 28 column ("And you thought the meals tax was settled") states that rejection of the extension of the meals tax in November "could force sewer rates, recently increased 20 percent, to jump another 60 percent, at least until the sewage plant loan is paid off in 2023."

Jeff''s column should have told readers that the March 20 letter from the City of Ashland says all Ashland residents will pay more for water and sewer fees starting on April 20. The City of Ashland's letter provides details:

"Dear Customer:

"Effective April 20, 2009, all Ashland customers will be charged at higher rates for the water and wastewater (sewer) systems. We know that rising costs are not welcome news ... but are due to reduced revenue from water sales and from the Food and Beverage Tax proceeds" (my italics for emphasis).

"The approved increases and estimated impact on a residential account, depending on water use, are:

System Increase Estimated Avg. Monthly Impact

Water 10% $3.16

Wastewater 20% $3.50

"The estimated combined impact is $6.65 ($79.80 a year) more on a 'typical' total residential bill based upon service type and volume of water used."

Ashland residents do not eat at restaurants as often as we did before the economic crash took much of our discretionary money. Now we pay the city higher rates for water and the sewage treatment plant. The Food and Beverage Tax, originated in more affluent times, doesn't cover those costs today as city planners once believed it would.

Many of us do not like the meals tax, but we should vote to continue it to help pay for our water supply and sewer treatment plant. If we vote to let the meals tax expire, we could get higher increases in our water and sewer rates.

Charles L. Walker


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