Outgoing Councilman Tells People Stop Asking if You Can't Pay; Thacker: "Residents Don't Want to Leave City Due to Fees Either..."

Updated 49 weeks ago by Tony Rutherford , HNN Entertainment Editor
Bill Rosenberger
Bill Rosenberger
File Photo

Outgoing council appointee and former Herald Dispatch reporter, Bill Rosenberger, has responded to rate increase complaints regarding the Huntington Sanitary Board.

"I don't like paying more either, but citizens either need to stop asking for stuff or accept some increases," Rosenberger wrote. He noted that HMDA bought Christmas decorations that is not part of the city budget.

He accepted Mayor Williams 'catastrophe' waiting to happen regarding the Waste Treatment Plant and city-wide pumping stations: "We save for projects in our home, but what about emergencies? I'd like the water quality board to have cash on hand to make sure they can quickly fix problems."

Scott Caserta has joined Rebecca Thacker in not supporting the increase. In fact, during his tenure as chairman of council, he opposed the Mayor's then proposal to utilize the Dietz Hollow funds to cover shortfalls. Williams countered that the fund was no longer necessary and may be reopened.

Thacker told HNN Tuesday night in response to Rosenberger, " When people want help, they  didn't want to file bankruptcy, have their property taken by the city, or children starving to pay for it. The Mayor is asking for more in infrastructure projects than the budget for all of Huntington."

David Williams , who has authored two fictional books about Huntington's drug issues, wrote in a blog:

"Mayor Steve is saying that if we do not raise the sewer fees then  our toilets will not flush at some point ...or will flush and it will run into the streets or river. This catastrophic prediction is similar to the sewer or rain tax problem of a few years ago.

"Catastrophe Steve, as he should be called , is using scare tactics to get what he wants. The silent catastrophe is that Huntington families suffer because you cannot manage the city's budget . What's next? A raise in the 'rain tax' (stormwater fee) or is it going to be the user fee again? 

"Huntington just isn't Stamford Park...it is Hal Greer Boulevard, it is Highlawn, it is Downtown and other areas. Huntington is a college town and students are struggling and eating ramen noodles every night. Huntington also has an older population that is aging and living on a fixed income. There are people struggling and now they not only have to pay a water bill , but a sanitation bill that will almost be the same amount.

"You wanted this job Mayor Steve, learn to solve this problem without just sending the residents of Huntington a bill.
If you continue, then I won't be able to afford to eat at some point either...." 

David Williams told HNN that the post (above) has attracted "fiery comments" on his own page with "many angry responses."

Here are a few:

SHJ: Don't forget if you don't pay your sewer, your water gets turned off. WV American water is raising their fees another $.52 surcharge to use "ahead" of repairs, not to recoup them. I'm like you, food will be last on the list. I'm a single homeowner, my budget is already stretched.

RW: They need to do the sewer fee on a % based on what your water usage is... It is not fair i pay the same amount in a single person household as someone with a family of 5 who uses more water. Last time my sewer bill went up 50% with the usage charge added on.... Charge bigger families more!!!

LL: If the money would actually go toward replacing infrastructure and not being wasted on other projects or increasing salaries and benefits, I wouldn't mind paying more. Our infrastructure is over 100 years old. There have been two water main breaks in front of my son's shop flooding and damaging the interior. Something needs to be done.

PS: I'm on disability and finding it hard to find work in this area. I simply cannot afford any more fees. It's up to the mayor to figure out how to stay within the budget not put it back on struggling citizens.

However, one response calls for a challenge. It seems he has been here before and the can has been kicked further down the decades.... but he suggests a magic word... GRANTS:

MF: I served on the Sanitary/Storm Sewer Committee several years ago as part of an infrastructure study group for Mayor Jean Dean.  It was a very interesting few months. We found out that Huntington has a combined sewer system, which means that not only the waste water from your home, but also most of the rainwater that goes down the sewer goes thru the sewage treatment plant and gets treated before its discharge into the Ohio River. A study was done sometime in the 50s to determine what it would cost to separate the two systems. This study, I believe, was over $20M in 1950s dollars.

Today, the work would most likely be ten times that amount.  The Waste Treatment Plant itself has a lot of miles on it. The Waste Treatment Plant itself has a lot of miles on it. It's probably fifty years old or more. Much of the equipment in it is obsolete and impossible to get parts to fit. Why didn't Huntington take care of it in the 50s when they did the study? Why didn't the City take care of the problems in 80s? Why didn't Mayor Dean's administration build a new treatment plant? Why don't we take care of the problems now? It's always the same reason - "We can't afford it and we don't want to pay for it".

We can't keep putting bandaids on it and expect it to heal. A good long term plan for systematic upgrades to the system would extend life considerably. There may be matching grants available for funds.

 

 
I used to do some work in both the Huntington and Charleston treatment plants, and they are both old, inefficient monsters, that just eat money.

Sometime, someone is going to have to step up, do the unpopular thing, and start making the improvements! Why not us? Why not now?
Let's stop kicking the can down the road!
 
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