Madison has failed to update its water infrastructure, primarily because they have failed to establish rates high enough to fund infrastructure, maintenance & updates and regrettably have continued to use the water fees to pay into a slush fund where money disappears into salaries and other unknown areas. Imagine if the county used trash card fees to fund something besides trash pick up??? Additionally, the LAST RATE INCREASE WAS 14 YEARS AGO. So it’s not inflation driving this increase; its negligence and irresponsibility. To be fair those problems are not Bob Courtney’s fault. Welch, Armstrong and Huntington all had opportunity to establish fair & responsible water rates; they didn't’t. Instead they “kicked the can” down the road & now its Bobs turn. So again inflation has nothing to do with this increase- the increase was needed every few years over the last 14 years, not all at once. But to be clear, the increase that is coming will not be one that is unreasonable – it won’t even make Madison residents pay the state average for water. So, those tying this issue to inflation have slightly missed the target. Inflation will come into play because of construction & labor costs associated with this “improvement.” Based on the numbers Courtney presented- there will be excess funds (what most call slush) every year even after paying city salaries & bond related costs. The amount of excess funds/slush available will depend on what interest rate the city/citizens will pay to borrow the money for the improvements. There’s more on this later because there is a large discrepancy between what the mayor has said to the public and commissioners and what will actually be paid to the state revolving loan fund from which the city will borrow.

Secondly, just like rates weren't increased- the City of Madison neglected to develop & adhere to a reasonable maintenance program. Again, we can’t blame our current water dept- Brian just has to fix the problems with which he was left- and remember- past mayors actively decided against funding maintenance. So it’s not inflation driving the rate increase- its negligence & irresponsibility. When I asked Brian (at the public meeting) what maintenance had been done- it was clear that in the last 20 years LITTLE TO NO serious maintenance had been done. So much of our so called “improvements” will not be improvements but instead repairing & updating severely neglected infrastructure. Essentially, we must decide who is responsible for cleaning up their own mess? The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not county dollars meant to benefit as many persons as possible in Jefferson County should be diverted to the city as a reward for their failure to increase rates in a reasonable manner over 14 YEARS AND PUT EFFORT AND MONEY INTO MAINTENANCE like other communities and our rural water companies have done over the years. Its obvious rural citizens have assumed reasonable increases so – why would the entire county subsidize Madison for not implementing at least reasonable increases over 14 YEARS. This is a very important question because rural areas have a substantially reduced income compared to city residents. Put bluntly over the LAST 14 YEARS the poorest citizens have paid their fair share- the richest have not.

So the mayor attempting to tie this increase to inflation is neither fair nor accurate but it is an easy way to avoid the hard truth. The city residents have NOT PAID THEIR FAIR SHARE for 14 YEARS & Madison has neglected to invest in its own water infrastructure and worse what they did have they didn't’t maintain. So when you think about who should pay – who caused this problem – the city or the county and have you seen a maintenance plan that would prevent future problems? (NO you haven’t and I can’t seem to find anything from anyone yet). I’m not in favor of kicking problems down the road but I do favor those who created the problem- fix it themselves and then also have a way to prevent the problem from reoccurring.

Next topic – rate study and interest rates and all about “scams” and slush funds. If you have more questions for JB on water rates or city vs county get them to him in the next few days. Have a wonderful Christmas everyone. Tami

$Picking sides in a water fight

Where do elected persons stand on the county giving county funds to the city to make up for their failure to raise rates over 14 YEARS and failure to maintain/upgrade infrastructure for over 2 DECADES?

Courtney introduced his demand for county covid dollars by talking about clean, safe water. He asked, “what is more important than assuring a safe water supply?”. So, we asked some questions - First and foremost- was there a problem with safe water in our area. It was made clear the city has had, currently has and will have safe water. So, this is NOT about safe water. Despite frustrated yells by one county council woman- NO MADISON WILL NOT END UP LIKE FLINT and clearly the mayor shouldn’t be discussing safe drinking water when safety is NOT the problem. Again, negligence & irresponsible handling of city water rates, poor maintenance & absolute failure of elected officials to care for citizen’s investments in water infrastructure is the problem. Again, Bob inherited negligence & irresponsible choices. But the problem is, Bob is trying to get the county to pay for city mismanagement & Bob is doing so by attempting to hide behind hysteria about safe water. THERE IS NO SAFE WATER PROBLEM- there is a mismanagement problem.

Not only is there no water safety problem, there is absolutely no agreement among county officials regarding funding the city’s negligence and irresponsible decisions. County Councilman Copeland either misrepresented (lied) or is poorly informed when he stated the council unanimously agreed to fund the city 2.5 million dollars to subsidize low water rates for city residents. THERE IS NO UNAMOUS AGREEMENT AMONG COUNTY COUNCIL MEMBERS to raid the county covid dollars and give the city 2.5 million. 3 of 7 county council disagree greatly with giving the city any funding what so ever. 2 seem to be Courtneys puppet and 2 seem totally lost as to what they are even discussing. So, Mr. Copeland has either misunderstood his fellow council persons or he is lying. I don’t know which, but it probably matters because ill-informed is bad enough but dishonest is a whole other ballgame. I don’t know Mr. Copeland but I will give you additional information later regarding his current and future plans for county office & how he came to support Courtney’s demand for 2.5 million from the county covid dollars for a project in which the city plans to invest ZERO of their own covid money.

Concerning city council: I believe all city council persons were present (in violation of state law). All that spoke were surprised when accurate, real data was presented concerning the actual benefit to local customers. The total rate increase for the vast majority of the city users will be less than $10 per month – that is it- that is all. Actually, the number presented was $9.10 per month for the average 4000-gallon user; since I use 3000, I will pay $7.13 AT THE MOST! Those are the costs without the county pitching in. Considering the city rate hasn’t been raised in 14 years- that seems more than reasonable. But if the county does pitch in, those who use 4000 gallons will pay $7.93, which saves an unimpressive $1.17 a month or only $14.04 total for the whole year. The problem is our saving is very, very small but the cost to the county and to the community is massive. For you to save $14.04 and year and me to save $11.04- we have to give up 2.5 million as a community. That’s 2.5 that could go to a mental health/drug treatment facility, a new community center on the west end of county for our growing senior population, improvements to our rural water departments which serve half the entire county population and any other number of worthy projects. We as a county give all those options up just for me and you to save between $11 and $14 and a few pennies. Just so you know the average county user who receives water through Madison water supply would pay less than a $9. INCREASE PER YEAR. Not all proposed projects may be allowed under the guidelines- commissioners are still checking even though many communities have already committed dollars to much needed community centers for seniors and youth as well as preschool programs. Many have opted for mental health and drug treatment facilities and some have used their dollars for water infrastructure improvements. However, no options will remain if funds are diverted to the city to help offset their decades of mismanagement and the gain for rate users will be extremely small. I’ll send more info soon. Tami

$A flood of excuses

Aside from the fact the mayor & certain county council have presented the city’s request/ demand for 2.5 million from the county as an urgent need to maintain clean water & have said it will help with future water needs- neither statement is fair nor accurate. As explained before the rate increase doesn’t have anything to do with inflation, unsafe water or anything other than years of mismanagement and negligence.

I listened carefully as Bob made his plea about safe water. But we have safe water. What we don’t have is well maintained water towers and water lines, nor do we have a huge increase in population in our community which would stress our existing infrastructure. When confronted as to why the city didn’t just use its own COVID money to address their water issues, Bob used the excuse that the city was already using SOME of their COVID dollars to invest in flood prevention & water run off problems and still needed money for safe water. But it’s more complicated than the city using SOME of their COVID money for flood prevention because we also haven’t had good management of our flood risk especially regulation of housing developments & big box construction. Therefore, whenever we built roofs, added asphalt driveways, built big box stores, big churches, a new hospital & concrete parking lots we had lots of water run off without retaining ponds to hold that run-off. Consequently, the run off ran right down what most know as 421 and others might know as the Rykers ridge water shed. Except the issue isn’t the RR water shed changed in the last decade. It’s that Walmart, Lowes, Miles Ridge, a couple churches & one new hospital have been added in the last 10-15 years on top of and near the Rykers Ridge water shed. Lots & lots of roofs, driveways & parking lots have been added & the city failed to require developers to invest in water run-off safety measures & infrastructure. So, water ran right downtown, literally on and around 421. Consequently, we developed a DANGEROUS flash flood problem. This matters because, Bob says the reason they aren’t investing city COVID dollars in water infrastructure is because they are investing in Flood mitigation & run off problems. Except my friendly local, civil engineer professional has spoken repeatedly about the city’s FAILURE to use past FEMA flood money to correct runoff & flood mitigation. Make no mistake the city has received FEMA funding because of downtowns self-inflicted flash flood problems.

Where those big FEMA dollars went – I don’t know. I just know whatever it was spent on didn’t address the flash flooding in and around 421 just as you enter downtown Madison & North Walnut Street areas. The problems most have with the city claiming they are using their COVID funds for flood mitigation is that we’ve heard it before. We heard it when FEMA gave millions in the past & the city said it would correct the problems, but then didn’t. This past spring Walnut Street citizens were outraged & expressed that rage at city council meetings. We can’t help but wonder- WTH- where’d all that past FEMA money go & has the city changed their building codes yet –have they done anything about retention ponds on the hilltop or is the plan to continue to let all that water run off right down 421? No one is talking about the “new flood mitigation plan”- the only thing we hear is that money will be spent on “something” for flood and run off. Well darn- we’ve heard that before….

Please remember this is not Bobs fault ( not most of it anyway). The decision as to how spend past city FEMA flood money fell to Armstrong and Welch- mostly Welch; Bobs first flood was this past spring. But the question remains, do you give the county’s COVID grant money to the city because the city decided to misspend their past flood control money? Do you give money not knowing if the city has or will change their development codes & address retention problems on the hilltop? Is it fair to citizens not only in Jefferson County but the vast majority of Madison that the city hasn’t changed its development policies & still allows citizens to move right back into trailers & older buildings in areas at high risk for flash floods and therefore we must invest millions to divert flash floods when it would be best to simply rezone & relocate persons from flood prone areas. Or is all the money for overflow and run off going to correct the problems on Clifty Drive and still leave those businesses and homes in the flash flood area in increasing danger? Are we ever going to do what the FEMA expects us to do- put human life first? Wouldn’t the best mitigation to be relocation, adding green space, changing codes to increase run off pond requirements etc , etc. If we did those things- the city wouldn’t have to spend millions in flood mitigation; people would be safe and flooding reduced- then the city could pay for its own water “improvements” instead of expecting the county pitch in more than a third of their COVID dollars. Bottom line- most agree with the commissioners- the city needs to address the underlying issues that cause our flash floods before asking the county to surrender 2.5 million.