The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bessemer Water Rates, Come On

It’s really surprising that so few people showed up at last nights Bessemer Neighborhood Association meeting. But Bessemer has a recent history of apathy, so why should I be surprised?

The BNA members were concerned about council actions that could lead to increased water rates, so during the meeting we called Camilo Fuller, the mayor’s assistant and he agreed to come down. When he saw the level of concern and the knowledge of the issue exhibited by BNA members, he called Mayor Ed May to come down and discuss the issue.

Anyway, here are the facts. Bessemer is under contract to supply water to Alabaster. Bessemer must build a $4.5 million waterline. Once this is complete, supplying water to Alabaster will be a positive thing for Bessemer.

In 2006 the council authorized Mayor Ed May to put a financial team together and he then went to New York along with some council members and secured a AAA bond rating (the city had no rating before). That means we can get good rates.

In April 2007, the council voted 7-0 to authorize May to negotiate the bond deal, and he did, at a 4.5% rate, which is a good rate. But certain council members wanted to use a different underwriter, the one they recommended in 2006, even though the interest rate would be much higher, and even though by law the 2007 council is under no obligation to adhere to the 2006 (different people) council recommendations.

Then there’s this. The delay has already allowed the preferred interest rate to rise to 4.8%, but that is still the best deal, and the rate will only hold for a couple more weeks.

We are in a contract with Alabaster, and if we do not pass a bond issue we will have to borrow the money, $4.5 million, short term, at rates that will cause our water bills to go up 108%, according to lender estimates.

Council persons Dorothy Davidson, Sarah Belcher, Jesse Matthews and Albert Soles (who was not part of the 2006 council) voted against the bond issue. They want to put the interest of one individual, Walter Lewis of Gardnyr Michael Capital above the interests of 30,000 customers of Bessemer Water, ignoring the hardship that doubling the cost of our water will cause.

The council is meeting at 9:00 this morning to continue last weeks meeting before their regularly scheduled planning meeting at 10:00 today. BNA members will b there to urge them, no, to demand that they look out for the interests of those who elected them rather than their buddy.

If the council does not pass the bill today, we will return with more people next Tuesday, because by then we can alert many more citizens in the districts of Davidson, Belcher, Matthews and Soles.

One member actually called Albert Soles during the meeting last night, and very forcefully told him that he needs to reconsider his vote. Another council person was trying to call the mayor during the meeting, I was sitting next to the mayor and his phone was on the table just vibrating away while he was speaking, and he told me who it was, and why they were calling.

Hopefully pressure is already being put on that council person and others, and they will do the right thing today. It’s not too late for you to help, though and you can do this by calling your council person this morning and demanding that he or she vote in the interests of the people they serve. I don’t have the individual council members cell phone numbers, but call the city at 428-4060 and ask for the council office and if you can’t get the councilor then leave a message outlining your position. I will post the results of the meeting around lunchtime.

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