COMMUNITY COMMENTARY

In a recent opinion piece in The Coast News, City Councilman Rocky Chavez said, “I agree that it is hard to fathom any fee increases this year in this economy.” Unemployment in California is over 12 percent which means one in eight Oceanside residents would be paying any fee increases from unemployment compensation. Wages and hours are being reduced for those who still have a job. Food stamp use is rising every day and food shelves can’t keep up with demand. The economic statistics are indeed grim.
On Aug. 26, my eyes almost popped out when I saw a proposed sewer rate increase of as much as $15 per month per resident in a rate notification letter. Why so much in these rough economic times? Unlike other cities, Oceanside has always wisely budgeted for repair and replacement of sewers. With current inflation at minus 2.1 percent as measured by the Consumer Price Index, with many cities in financial trouble and unable to afford infrastructure projects, and banks funding little or no development, any bid for a contract for city sewer repair and replacement should be the same as last year or less. With costs stable or even decreasing, the sewer rate proposed increase should only reflect the extra cost necessary to compensate for decreased water use, so this increase did not make sense.
So, what is going on? Our city is asking the residents to pay for downtown development. Is this corporate welfare or developer bailout? Pick your own name but per an article in The Coast News dated Aug. 28, and quoting Lonnie Thibodeaux, the Oceanside Water Utilities director, CityMark and other downtown projects are going to max out the present sewer lines. Our city failed to include the cost of extra sewer capacity for downtown development in the developer costs. We are told developers pay for all impacts through fees imposed on the developer. So why is our city passing the millions of dollars needed to build the increased sewer capacity onto us? Also, why are we only hearing now through The Coast News that sewer rates have to go up to support downtown development? Why wasn’t this revealed so it could be publicized before CityMark and other downtown projects were approved? Are you beginning to wonder how many millions of other corporate developer costs have also been shifted to us without our knowledge in the same way?
We are all going to be paying higher taxes to pay for the TBTF banksters, GM and Chrysler bail out trillions. The Federal Troubled Assets Relief Program’s Oversight Committee, or TARP, calculated the bailouts/guarantees so far as about $23 trillion. Now you can add a few million more at the local level. Business takes the profits and we pay the costs. Are you as tired of this as I am?
I agree with Councilman Chavez that every resident needs to attend the town hall meeting regarding the monstrous sewer rate increase so we can say, “no more bailouts.” An article in the Sept. 18 edition of The Coast News had all of this information but I need to repeat it because this town hall is important.
The town hall will be held Sept. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the City Hall community rooms. If you can’t attend, e-mail or call. Say “No!” loud and clear to sewer rate increases bailing out corporate downtown development projects especially when we all agree with Rocky that “it is hard to fathom any fee increases this year in this economy.” Our bailout as residents will be passing the cost of extra sewer capacity back to the corporate developers where it was supposed to be in the first place. Putting corporate businesses on the public dole is not capitalism.

Lizbeth Altman is a retired Oceanside senior trying to live on a fixed income

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