Editorial: Slow down on sewer, water rates

Published 7:46 am Monday, December 21, 2009

The Albert Lea city staff made the results of a sewer and water study available to the public for the first time last Monday. And it made a proposal for changed sewer and water rates Monday. The Albert Lea City Council will consider the new rates Dec. 28.

If you are a business owner or a homeowner, you get only two weeks during a busy shopping season to comprehend an issue to which city officials have had a front-row seat for six months.

That’s not fair. That’s just not enough time to learn about the proposal. And that’s not enough time for city leaders to make a sound decision with plenty of public input.

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The lack of time feeds into the existing low reputation the city already has for rushing its decisions — an issue on which it has made notable gains.

This isn’t a typical rate increase either. It’s an entirely new structure.

Let’s slow down. Rates don’t have to be in effect by Jan. 1. We lend our support to the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce in asking for more time for the public to understand the water and sewer rates being proposed.

We applaud the city for having an independent study done. The old rates were rather arbitrary and something needed to be done. However, a study alone is no reason to make a rate change. There are other factors that need time to be introduced.

An educated decision, with all sides having time for review and for input, puts the city in the best light, leads to fewer bitter feelings and results in the best community consensus.