There is a woman in Juneau I have concocted. I know no real woman who’s the one I have made up, but she stands for many residents. I think of her as “The Single Mom Who Lives in a Trailer House.” She might not; she could have a very small apartment or even, though not likely, a tiny house, but she has at least two young children and no funds other than her low-paying job.
Now we have another utility hike under consideration. The argument on the part of the utility people makes sense. The department is not paying its way, so rates need to increase. Right now my flat rate per month is $94.53. That’s annoying for most of us; it’s deadly for the Single Mom, and it doesn’t include electricity.
What is she going to do when rates increase? It’s a flat rate, so she can’t try to decrease her use of water or wastewater or anything.
Now here’s a startling idea. What about the city diverting funds from other sources? They have been touting the work on Main Street, adding they plan to cover the sidewalk from the bus terminal up the street to help keep the walkers dry when it rains.
Is that really necessary? I recall some years ago when sidewalks downtown were ripped up and replaced with fake bricks and tiles for the street crossing. Word was that cost $9.5 million. How far would that have gone to keep utility rates low? The top of Main Street has been covered; how much good does that do?
I don’t mean to criticize only the Street Department; I am speaking of the lack of thinking about the poor in this town, the ones barely getting by now.
Juneau is a kind and generous town, very good about donating clothing and supporting worthwhile causes such as the Glory Hole, but either the Assembly hasn’t thought about the Single Mom or doesn’t represent Juneau. Several years ago Mark Choate, then on the Assembly, suggested removing sales tax from groceries for those in need, assuming that food is a universal necessity. That went nowhere.
So, please, Assembly, reconsider the utility rate hike. There surely is something you can do to ameliorate the charges. Think about it.