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City should have delayed rate hike

The headline last week read, “Council agrees to ‘more palatable’ 5% water rate hike.”

And trust us, we appreciate the effort of Alpena council members who debated over an initial request of a 10% hike for city residents. Certainly, the community is grateful the council settled in at the 5% hike, instead of the original request.

Our only wish is that council members instead would have delayed the debate by three months to see how the local unemployment levels might look then. It is our hope that, by then, more area folks might have returned to work.

Right now, for many families, it matters not whether a water rate hike be 5%, 10% or 100% — the money is not there. People’s lives have been turned upside down and inside out because of the COVID-19 pandemic and, suddenly, families are faced with some tough decisions. On Friday, the state said Alpena County’s unemployment was nearly 19%.

Certainly, unemployment benefits help, as do federal stimulus checks. But government help only goes so far, and, eventually, families who once were working and now aren’t will have some tough decisions before them.

Given that reality in the community, we would have liked to have seen the water rate issue tabled until a clearer economic picture would start to be seen.

We understand the city’s water and sewer infrastructure has many needs, and the increase is needed to help address some of those needs. We know a delay — especially at this time, would severely have hampered work while the weather is good.

Given the unusual circumstances that the COVID pandemic has created for everyone, however, just this one time, we would have wished that the hike could have been delayed.

We guess “palatable” in this instance is in the eye of the beholder.

(THE ALPENA NEWS)

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