Last night, the Public Service Commission heard public comments on the American Water Works corporation’s effort to squeeze higher profits out of the people of Lexington with a 37% rate hike.
American Water claims the 37% rate hike (on top of a 18% hike last year) is needed to pay for a water plant and pipeline they built.
They built the water line and plant at exorbitant cost with Mayor Jim Newberry’s explicit and active support.
In a display of either unfettered incompetence or disingenuous shock, Mayor Newberry is now surprised that the full cost of this plant must be borne by the people whose vote he so desperately needs.
Newberry said there was no inconsistency in supporting the project and opposing the rate increase.
The mayor said Kentucky American is entitled “to a reasonable return on their investment…”
No inconsistency at all!
It’s really quite clear, in fact. You see, Mayor Newberry was for it before he was against it but he’s still kind of for it. A surprising stance from a man who’s taken over $20,000 from the Water Company.
Vice Mayor Jim Gray also spoke. And what sort of muddled-mixed-up message did he espouse?
Vice Mayor Jim Gray says Lexington doesn’t need the plant and is being asked to bail out the utility’s bad business decision.
“I question whether these massive costs should have been incurred at all,” he said.
Oh my! Well that’s not mixed up at all. That’s a clear stance solidly in line with the interests of the citizens of Fayette County… not a wishy-washy bunch of BS to protect a multinational conglomerate.
Mayor Newberry didn’t like the sound of all that, of course, and said that Gray’s attempt to save taxpayers money demonstrated “a woeful misunderstanding of a really critical issue.”
Here’s some more crazy, woefully misinformed talk from this wacky Jim Gray character:
Gray, in his comments to the commissioners, said Lexington officials had been sold on the project on the basis of it being a regional treatment plant, with towns around Lexington sharing the costs.
“The burden of this rate increase will not be shared by others but will be directly on the backs of Lexington citizens,” he said.
There were just a handful of other people at the hearing, including a representative of the AARP who read a letter signed by a couple dozen senior citizens claiming that increased water rates make it difficult for seniors to stay in their homes.
We’ve heard a rumor that the Newberry campaign was quick to note the signatories may or may not be suffering from dementia or at least a woeful lack of understanding about a critical issue facing this community.
Also, our dear reader Juvenal reports that there were no Tea Party activists or anti-government Randians, presumably because taxation is all fine and dandy when it’s in the name of private business. They’d support a 2,000% rate increase.
As Juvenal additionally points out in the comments here, Jim Gray and Jim Newberry were not the only politicos in attendance.
Though not one of the city’s other elected officials chose to attend (Diane Lawless excluded as she’s recuperating from a brief illness), Lexington legend and COUNCIL AT LARGE uber-candidate Don Pratt did show up.
You can read Don’s own take on the event here in the comments, and in November, you can remember this when you step into the voting booth: When the water corporation came for your money, Don Pratt was there.