Thursday, January 10, 2013

Why the Allentown Water question matters to the rest of Lehigh County

I am a firm believer in representative Democracy. I also am a firm believer in the right of the governed to enact legislation through the ballot box by initiative when the public feels those they have elected to govern don't adequately address an important issue.
   At this point, I will not give a view on whether or not I agree with either side in the issue of whether or not the Allentown water organization should be privatized, or leased.
    But I will point out an inconvenient truth or two. One is that a private operator more than likely will raise rates to recoup their investment, indirectly causing issues for suburban water customers of the Lehigh County Authority. If you don't believe that could happen READ THIS
   And I just don't mean homeowners, I mean industrial users as well.
    Time after time, I hear from many of my suburban neighbors that they think whatever is happening in Allentown Government has no effect on them. The same people who close their eyes to Meth labs in the Suburbs like Lower Macungie wishfully pretend that all issues stop at the Allentown City line. But that is not true.

     The Lehigh County Authority purchases quite a bit of water from Allentown so that those living in McMansion land can have a nice hot shower and flush their toilet all day long.  The suburbs do have a dog in this fight, but they have been ignoring it. They won't wake up until the for profit people raise their rates substantially years down the line, when it is too late

   Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski has at least tried to find solutions to funding problems in the city.
    I don't always agree with him, but I respect him. Do you think cutting services is a better solution?
    It is easy to criticize the man when you don't have a solution of your own. Personally, If I still lived in Allentown, I would be against the 50 year lease. But I don't have an alternative to the pension fund crisis, and I don't know what I would do. This is comparable to what our Walking dead County Commissioners are doing, just it's from the Democratic mayor of Allentown.
     I give all sides credit for trying to do something, whether I think it is right or wrong.

    But on the water issue, I won't be surprised if when the campaign finance reports go online, I see a whole bunch of money being given to both sides from sources outside Allentown.
    For the private operator it is about profit, and for the public, it is about control of a vital resource.

   And that is where the money will start talking. There are three Upper mac industrial tenants that I can name right off the bat that use Lehigh County Authority water at their facilities, Coca-Cola, Nestle Waters, and soon Ocean Spray.  How do you think rising water rates would push their bottom line?
     There are going to be some big players putting money into the water ballot issue. Don't doubt it, this is going to get even messier down the road.

    So the question is, do you want to see Allentown meet its' safety forces pension costs in the short term, by having the costs for those pensions spread out across the County to residents and industrial users outside the city?
    Or you can be against the privatization/lease, and tell the Mayor to find another solution.
    What is the best answer? When you think about what rising water rates might mean to three large companies that employ thousands, you start wondering what the right answer is, and what we think is best for all.

  Puts it in a whole new light doesn't it?

   Think about it.

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