Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gutter Politics & Political Gutterballs

The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them.
- Karl Marx
Sorry I didn't get around to posting last night, but the election returns took precedent.
I had two reasons that could have prevented a good night's sleep; either anxiety or exhilaration over the outcomes.
Fortunately it was the latter.
I feel like the City now has as a good group of elected officials to represent it as was reasonable to expect.
That, alone, will help me sleep better the next few years!

To those who did not win elections, thank goodness you put yourself out there and tried!
It is a hard thing to do to put yourself out there, but in the end that competition does produce a better result for citizens.
All of us roll gutterballs from time to time, but all that does is to help us do better next time.
We don't give up bowling, and we ought not to give up on politics.

Now, to the gutter politics part.
Sorry again!
It's a poor play on words that leads to a brief discussion of the City's Sewer system that will be expanded later.
How many people do you know who would willingly spend all day Saturday reading over 300 pages of a draft Sewer Plan?

OK, maybe a few engineers might do that.

Otherwise, only people like City Council members would do it, because they will need to understand why planning 20 years into the future is necessary, in order to justify making some important decisions that will affect how our sewer system must be expanded and upgraded, and these improvements paid for over that time.

Most people take sewers for granted as a basic necessity that is just -somehow- provided.
That's good, because the folks who operate our sewer system and waste treatment plant prefer to remain very low profile!
Remaining low profile means things are operating smoothly with little if any problems that can be noticed by citizens.

Bet you didn't know these fascinating facts:

• The City operates 324 miles of wastewater collection systems

• The Post Point Wastewater Treatment Plant has a peak capacity of 72 million gallons per day

• The City's sewer service area covers 30 square miles and serves 83,000 customers

• The elevation ranges from sea level to a height of 800 feet

• Treated wastewater is discharged into Bellingham Bay

• Treatment of wastewater is closely regulated by the State Dept of Ecology, which just approved the City's permit for another 5 years.

• Population growth over the next 20 years will require building capital facilities costing about $109 million.

• All of this funding must be raised either from ratepayers or public Revenue Bonds.

• The Sewer Utility operates as an 'Enterprise Fund', which means its costs of operation must be matched by its revenues.

• Some carefully considered increases to both sewer rates and system development charges must be adopted to meet projected needs.
With this brief background it may be easier to understand why this topic should be of more than passing interest to everyone.
That is why the Council's recent Work Session was important.
This meeting was not televised or very well-attended, but will likely result in some changes in how we obtain the revenue necessary to operate our sewer system well into the future.
Stay tuned.
Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
- H. L. Mencken