Getting local elected leaders to agree on anything that involves working together is like mixing oil and water. You can get them in the same room to talk about an issue, but no matter how dire the situation, they will march on their separate ways.
So stubborn are these leaders that they look out for the survival of a municipality before looking out for the betterment of the residents. The water district is a perfect example.
For years, municipalities have treated their water departments as if they are an asset.
Carriage House was one of many businesses seeking a regional water district. Leadership, once again, failed an area work force.
They are not being honest with those they serve. Water plants are a liability. They cost money to run and almost all run at a deficit while charging area customers who live within the proximity of a Great Lake higher rates for water than Arizona residents pay in the middle of a desert.
Maintaining is the only purpose of municipal leaders despite the 30-some years of suffering the region has endured. Yet, when business asks for something, leaders turn a deaf ear or blind eye.
ConAgra's decision to close Carriage House was likely imminent, but looking back on the situation what did any elected official do in the recent past or the last decade to show they would be willing to work with the company? Sure, they had some meetings after Ralcorp announced it would be cutting back in January 2013. But what did they really do?
Did they lower taxes? No.
Did they lower sewer rates? Of course not.
Did they lower water rates? Absolutely not.
Did they challenge property assessments of the company? They sure did.
So, how is the local environment working for any business when municipalities do nothing - except raise rates - to work with a company?
Leaders could have put on a unified front for a water district, but you cannot even get that from this group worried more about maintaining a status quo than helping a community job provider.
ConAgra's announcement and departure is sickening. But remember, no municipal government provided any life preserver to the company in the last year or the past 10. They just kept raising rates without considering any consequence.
One day before the ConAgra announcement, the city mayor spoke to the Rotary Club of Dunkirk. He was told the regional water district needs to happen and the city is the glue to keep it together. His response was there needs to be a benefit for the city before it goes all in.
That led to the statement, by a club member and the publisher of this newspaper, that there is no benefit in the current system. None whatsoever, especially when rates keep rising - and could hit alarming rates without the district.
The response by the mayor: a chuckle, then "Yep."
That, community members, is a reason for distress.
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