Thursday, March 11, 2010

does this count as a tax increase?

are you unhappy that the propsed deal to sell the city's water and sewer utilities would allow citizens energy group to raise rates with no oversight from the city?

if so, you should talk to mayor ballard, because to him that's the whole point:

There are those who believe one reason Indianapolis is selling its water and sewer systems to Citizens Energy Group is so the utility can do something that elected officials have often lacked the courage to do: raise rates.

To those folks, Mayor Greg Ballard has a message: You're pretty much right -- and it's the right thing to do.

Ballard officially announced Wednesday the city is selling the utilities to Citizens for $1.9 billion.

What that means for ratepayers is that Citizens' board of directors -- and not local elected officials accountable to Indianapolis voters -- will make decisions on when to seek rate hikes from the state and by how much.

first off, it sure is odd that a mayor who campaigned on transparency and accountability would deliberately want to make the city's utilities less accountable... and do so in a closed-door deal, no less!

second, if the mayor thinks this will give him political cover when rates go up, he's sorely mistaken. voters will remember who was responsible for selling these utilities and stripping away the city's oversight. in 2007, candidate ballard would've called this a tax increase, and so will ballard's opponents come 2011.

ballard's argument is that politicians are too cowardly to raise rates as much as they need to be raised. of course, the brave thing to do would be to suck it up and raise rates yourself. then he could say, "i did what needed to be done; i did what past administrations were too afraid to do." instead, when rates go up, the mayor will just shrug his shoulders and say, "i didn't do it!"

but hey, at least we can fix some potholes, am i right?

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