Friday, March 17, 2006

Water Rate Hike, MHA Shuffling, More County Borrowing and Losing More Ground

Just when things seemed to have quieted down, a spate of news stories has pricked our interest. Unfortunately, as usual, the news is more of the same.

We no sooner put our wallets away in anticipation of a spring end to high heating bills when we get confronted with a potential double digit hike in water rates. While recent changes to federal regulations may have something to do with the hike, the unhappy homeowner should know about how he or she may be subsidizing some of our large "industrial" users in the area, such as the prisons, Hamilton College, and the Brewery. To see what we mean, look at the table on p 45 of 141 at MVWA 2003 Bond Series Info and notice MVWA's ranking for "Industrial" rather than "Residential" users, and it will tell you why your individual home rates may be so high. If you want to know who are the beneficiaries of YOUR largess, check out: MVWA 2005 Financial Report Page 105 of 116.

On another front, we find out that the Utica Municipal Housing Authority has chosen a new leader, a former Utica City School District superintendent, who apparently interviewed for a superintendent's job in Fall River last summer, when questions were raised about his departure from East Providence. The Internet sure makes life interesting, doesn't it? No questions seem to have been raised here ... Is MHA still on dialup?

Meanwhile, Oneida County (with the highest sales tax in the state) feels the need to borrow some more - up to $2 million dollars more - to construct an aircraft maintenance training center for MVCC (or is it really for Empire Aero) at Griffiss. While our local colleges should be providing our students with training that will lead to jobs in the local economy, do we really need to BORROW to do this, especially now when our tax burden is already so crushing? What is the projected Return On Investment for this borrowing? (The legislation may be reviewed at page 18 of 58 here.)It's interesting to compare the tons of press coverage and back-slapping given to the State's security training center ($1-6 million state dollars) as opposed to the practical silence on this proposal ($2 million County dollars).

Finally, we have the non-news story of the year, since we can literally see it every day in boarded up houses and businesses: the region's population shrinking.

Perhaps the first three stories explain the last.

PS Happy St. Paddy's Day to you all.
Maybe if we pray real hard we can drive the "snakes" that hold us back out of Oneida County. Don't miss Utica's big parade tomorrow morning!

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