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Our Opinion: A necessary evil

May 24, 2001

When the Brawley City Council and city staffers were talking about expanding the capacity of the city's wastewater treatment plant, city officials said they did not expect to have to raise rates much. It turns out they wrong.

Now the council is looking at raising rates from $13 to $16.25 as the average monthly sewer bill for households. City officials said they faced some unexpected costs and there is little else they can do. While the rates have not yet been increased, the council is planning to have public hearings on the increase in June and the first billing for the new rate, which is already figured into the next fiscal year's budget, is scheduled for Aug. 1.

It is unfortunate the city has fallen into this position, but we do not think it is the result of bad planning. The city seemed to do much planning and worked hard to obtain grant funding to prevent rate increases.


We would hope the expansion of the wastewater plant would set in motion a period of growth, and such growth might make it possible for the city to lower rates. We do not know if that is possible, and it probably isn't likely — when was the last time you saw a city lower a fee — but we can hope.

The increase is not going to be an easy hit for residents. It may only be a few extra dollars per month, but those costs add up, and families that live on tight budgets cannot easily afford a few extra dollars.

It's important to remember the city has not had much choice regarding the water plant. Brawley was under orders from the state to expand the plant because at times the city surpasses the capacity of the facility. Still, growth can be positive if it helps the city attract new business and meet the needs of such business.

Brawley needs growth, both residential and business. The city could be on the verge of rapid growth with the building of the beef-processing plant and the recent Luckey Ranch annexation.

And, as we are seeing with the water rate increase, sometimes it hurts to grow.

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