Water increase more than meets the eye

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 25, 2006

To the Editor:

Superintendent of the Selma Water Works and Sewer Board Mayor Perkins and Water Works Directors Bennie Ruth Crenshaw, Johnny Leashore, and Sam Randolph are raising our water and sewer rates 30 percent effective June 1.

Their rationale for this large increase is that the “annual net income during the ensuing fiscal year will not be sufficient to cover anticipated operations and maintenance expense…” With them in charge of finances, is anyone surprised that there is not enough money to run the Water Works?

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With the same people being in charge of city finances, I had wondered whether the city or the water works would go broke first.

There will be the usual comparison of water and sewer rates in Selma with rates in other cities; however, Selma is not like other cities.

Are other cities in a county where 78 percent of black babies (415 out of 529 births) and 33 percent of white babies (45 out of 133 births) are born to single mothers.

This pervasive sin and immorality causes some 32 percent of Selma’s population to live below the poverty level.

Do other cities have 42 percent of their population living in free or reduced payment public housing in some 2,000 units of subsidized conventional and Section 8 housing.

Do other cities

have a population which has declined each year in the past five years while expenditures of government serving less people have increased annually.

Selma has about reached the saturation point of the productive citizens paying more

while the Water Board writes off some $50,000 to $70,000 yearly as uncollectable and the city has more than $400,000 of uncollected garbage bills.

What generally happens as the productive are taxed more and more to support

the big spenders in government and the unproductive is that the productive move out of the city.

This increases the burden on those who remain while those who do not, will not or can not pay higher water bills or city taxes continue to enjoy the benefits of the labors of others while draining the social services of the area.

Instead of raising water and sewer rates, the Board could reduce the almost $100,000 a year it pays itself and its Superintendent.

It could especially reduce the illegal, according to the Alabama Ethics Commission, salaries of Bennie Ruth Crenshaw ($19,600 a year), Johnny Leashore ($9,600) and Sam Randolph ($9,600). The Ethics Commission has said that the most any director should receive is the amount approved by the Selma City Council, which is $350 a month.

Instead of reducing expenses, salaries, or high paid personnel, the Water Board and the City Council look for ways to tax the decreasing number of productive citizens of the City.

There will be one vacancy on the Water Board in August and another vacancy at the end of September.

Hopefully, the City Council will use better judgment in filling these positions than it used when it elected Crenshaw, Leashore and Randolph to the Water Board.

Cecil Williamson

Councilman Ward 1