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Let Them Eat Cake?

By Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.
The Truth Contributor

History tells us a nation can survive for years by shifting the burdens of life to the people confined by force and violence to the bottom.

             – Lerone Bennett, Jr.   


Rev. Donald L. Perryman, D.Min.

The Kapszukiewicz administration broke out its uniform water supply agreement last week after a long, grueling process. The agreement will now be distributed to the councils of several suburban communities for their approval. It is significant that the low-income assistance and lead line replacement programs were missing in the present contract, unlike in previous iterations.

 What explains the absence of these critical elements which we advocated in order to prevent the mass shutoffs experienced in Detroit and lead emergencies such as occurred in Flint and even today in Newark, all of which disproportionately affected low income persons and people of color?

Drinking from Separate Fountains:

The process, I’m told, first requires that the number of suburban signees be determined in order to fix the “wholesale” water rate. Once the wholesale rates have been determined, then the “retail” rates (that residents of Toledo and Lucas County pay), can be fixed. Only then, is it possible to determine how much (if any) funding is available for the affordability and lead replacement programs.

Cake or Crumbs?

Someone explained to me, “It’s like doing a cake, you’ve got to bake the cake before you put the frosting on. You get a cake with no frosting if there’s only seven members in the agreement instead of nine.”

Icing is not what I would call what low-income people receive. It’s more like crumbs if they get anything at all.

When Toledo went with the TAWA approach it retained ownership of the water plant and control of rate setting authority. What it gave up was a ton of revenue to pay for costly plant maintenance and implementation of affordability programs. In addition, water rates in Toledo will necessarily be much higher because there are fewer people to share the burden than with the rejected TAWA agreement.

How much for lead replacement and water affordability to assist those most vulnerable?

Supposed these costs are “baked in” to estimated retail water rates.

Yet, it is City Council that will ultimately determine rates. And, it’s very likely that body will be forced to jack Toledo water bills up sky high because of a smaller buying pool. In essence, then, poor people will be paying for their own affordability program and lead line replacement project.

There is a realistic possibility that the cost of lead line replacement and an adequate low-income assistance program will be much greater than the revenues collected for the water affordability pool.

The result is crumbs for low income people. And, perhaps it explains the reason the City did not initially want to reference the affordability plan in the current contract.

Nevertheless, although flawed, the current contract is the best option available to us at this time.

So, it's up to City Council, when they vote September 3, to ensure that the commitment to those most vulnerable is included in the proposed uniform water contract. Then council should make certain that there is adequate funding for affordability plans and lead line replacement without burdening those who need them most.

Contact Rev. Donald Perryman, D.Min, at drdlperryman@centerofhopebaptist.org



Copyright © 2019 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/29/19 14:02:31 -0400.



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