Saturday, June 25, 2016
TKC BREAKING AND EXCLUSIVE NEWS!!! KANSAS CITY SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST RISING WATER RATES STARTS COMMUNITY OUTREACH & TESTIMONY!!!
This wordy presser addresses a serious and rising concern in Kansas City . . .
FIRST ON TKC . . . READ THE DEETS OF A NEW KANSAS CITY COMMUNITY ACTIVIST CAMPAIGN TO STOP RISING WATER RATES!!!
The reality here is not only that the KCMO WATER DEPT. IS LONG OVERDUE FOR AN INDEPENDENT MISSOURI AUDIT but also that the tide of water rate increases threaten to ruin the so-called "low cost of living" that makes local life so attractive to millennials, tourists and Downtown denizens.
Here's the word . . .
New Residential Water Rates Discriminate Against The Poor, New Watchdog Group Charges
(Kansas City, MO) -- The recent increase in the water rates charged to residential customers in Kansas City, Mo., amounts to utility rate discrimination by the local government against poor and low income people, a newly formed watchdog group charges.
The group, the Right2Water Coalition-KCMO, has started a “Stop Water Rate Hike in KCMO” campaign on Facebook. The coalition accuses city officials and KC Water Services of imposing an austerity tax on local poor, unemployed, and low income people, many of whom never recovered from the so-called Great Recession. They say the water service is no longer affordable, and that some people’s water bills have tripled due to the rate increase
All residential water customers are being charged higher rates. However, everyone cannot afford to pay the higher rates, the coalition says. The coalition says many currently middle class people will be made poor when they cannot pay their water bills, and there will be hundreds, or thousands, of people whose water will be shut off completely.
The city’s water ”payment” plan or deferred payment structure will not be enough, neither will grants or charity, according to the Right2 Water Coalition. Meanwhile, wholesale partners and industrial/commercial customers seem to have been given a pass to pay the lion’s share of sewage and water pipe infrastructure replacement and upkeep. This amounts to utility rate discrimination, which is forbidden by federal and state law.
According to the coalition, decades of poor management of the water infrastructure by city officials has caused today’s crisis, and the rise in residential water rates in Kansas City, Mo. is not the answer. It is city government mismanagement and failure to voluntarily take care of sewage and environmental controls which caused the federal government to sue the city government for releasing raw sewage into the Missouri River.
City officials were asleep at the wheel, the coalition charges, and as a result, the federal government forced the city government to enter into a federal consent decree requiring the city government to abide by federal environmental regulations. The EPA fined Kansas City $600,000 and made the city spend another $1.6 million for supplemental environmental controls that would prevent further sewage leaks. Now, city officials want to punish the people of the city to pay for the officials’ mismanagement and mistakes by enacting massive water rate hikes, the coalition says.
The coalition maintains that city officials have engaged in a deceptive public relations campaign and false accounting to justify the residential water rate increases. The coalition says KC Water Services claims and other declarations by city officials, which dictate that they must spend billions at the direction of the EPA, is a false claim. City officials created the $2.5 billion plan. Federal authorities just approved it. The coalition says that local officials have never publicly released the entire plan they submitted to the EPA to the local press or the public at-large.
In addition, the coalition says, city officials have not made any progress report or any financial report giving line item accounting of what they were purchasing to complete the plan, such as what type of pipes are being used. Therefore, it is impossible for the public to be sure that there is not fraud, waste, or abuse of resources in the project.
The expenditures could be fabricated, the plan filled with cost overruns, waste, and other improper expenditures., says JoNina Ervin, coalition spokesperson. “What the water company spends on this project also determines the amount of revenue to be recovered. Overall, it might be substantially less than $2.5 billion to complete this job, and the plan reflects the amount that customers are to be charged.
“We need to hear and see estimates and competitive bidding proposals and contracts for all expenditures. We also believe that people might be willing to pay a one-cent sales tax for 25 years, rather than $100 or more extra per month on their water bills for that same 25 years,” Ervin said.
The coalition believes that charging customers 50 to 70 per cent increases on their water bills is not the best way, and is in fact price gouging for water services. Ervin said that the coalition will seek to overturn the latest rate increase through a complaint to the State Public Counsel, the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection unit, and/or court litigation by filing a class action lawsuit by private attorneys. The water rate hike is unjust enrichment, price fixing, and creative accounting, which cannot be trusted. Thus, the coalition says the answer is to create a citizens’ movement to keep the city-owned water company accountable.
Ervin said, “We are just getting started, but we are seeking to build a mass movement of ratepayers to KC Water Services.”
To educate the public on the issues, the coalition is holding the first of several community speak-outs on Saturday, July 9, at the Quilombo Community Center, 3504 Woodland Ave., Kansas City, Mo., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The speak-outs will also act as planning sessions for further building the movement and let ratepayers comment about the impact of the water rate hike on their families and households.