Don't Rain on the City's Storm of Lies | Eastern North Carolina Now

Don't Rain on the City's Storm of Lies

    “There will be no increase in Utility Rates this year.” These were the words of Mayor Donald Sadler when the City Council was faced with a room full of working class, middle class and struggling families and individuals at the June City Council meeting about the upcoming budget.

    The City Manager's office had prepared a budget that included a 15% utility rate increase (and I might add a 7% property tax increase) which set off a firestorm of protest from citizens. They didn't expect the crowd that turned out and were surprised that they couldn't get away with the usual shenanigans of doing the bidding of the martini sippers and putting one over on the rest of the city. So when the Mayor announced this the room exploded in claps. Some even took to Facebook to thank him for opposing the Utility Rate increases.

    Only he lied. I'll pull no punches about it. Sure the utility rates themselves didn't increase but go check your bill from last month. Notice anything different? If you're a business owner you will notice a major difference and if you are a resident you will still notice your bill went up even if your consumption went down. Well how can that be when the City Manager told everyone that the increase was only going to amount to $12 a year for solid waste management?

    Well because this is an election year and political operatives lie in election years pure and simple. What they did to try to get you the taxpayers and voters to shut the hell up and let them do as they please is that they increased the fees on the utility bills so that they could face you and say “There will be no increase in Utility Rates this year.” It's unethical, immoral, and just bold-faced lying; no need to mince words here.

    They did this primarily by increasing dramatically a fee on your bill called the “storm water fee” which they base on the square footage of the roof of your property. The increase is so big that in many cases business owners I've talked to are now paying even more than a 15% utility rate increase they would have faced. The mayor's preferred candidates on the council then didn't have to say they voted for a utility rate increase in an election year and Mayor Sadler could look like the savior of the downtrodden by staving off utility rate increases. Great way to try to deceive people until you realize that people like me were paying attention to what they were doing and if other media outlets won't call him and the City Manager's office out on their deception I will. Note also that the interim head of the Utility Department also happens to be the highest paid official in the city who also owns 38 slum properties in town but I digress.

    So how do we fix the lies? Well, first let me note that two council members stood up for you and voted no on the budget. Those members were Bobby Roberson and William Pitt. Lou Hodges, Mike Wren and Richard Brooks all voted for the deceptive budget that raised your utility bills and made your life more difficult. So for starters, vote in this election as if your money depended on it because it does. Secondly, I am proposing not just rolling back the storm water fees but eliminating them. I'll explain why.

    These fees were a scam foisted on the city years ago as being dedicated to help elevate homes on the floodplains to prevent damage and help home and property owners. A noble cause in other words. Do you know how much of that money for over a decade they've used for that purpose? I'll give you a few minutes to mull it over. NONE. That's right, the city took the storm water fees and simply put it into the Utility Fund and then has transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Utility Fund to the General Fund for years and years while not helping lift the homes and businesses they said the fees were dedicated to.

    But Gary, what about the lost revenue from the storm water fees? Good question. Let the council and the City Manager make the tough choices to cut unnecessary spending or be forced to make tough votes on utility rate increases instead of lying to the public. Where could we cut you ask? Well we certainly don't need a new athletic director and we don't need an assistant City Manager that doubles as a slum lord earning close to $200,000 a year when you factor in benefit packages. We don't need to be spending $148,000 on legal fees for the Mayor to keep homes he doesn't like out of his neighborhood. And we can put a moratorium on pay raises for city employees earning $75,000 or more in place for the next 5 years until we balance our budget. Does this not make common sense? This doesn't even factor in the addition sales tax revenue that will pour in because businesses can invest more if they aren't forking over storm water fees to the city based on lies.

    The City of Washington and their martini sipping supporters don't want you to rain on their storm of lies. Show up at the polls this year and show them exactly what kind of storm to expect when you lie to the residents of the City!
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( September 19th, 2023 @ 4:26 pm )
This was super great!!!
( September 13th, 2023 @ 2:40 pm )
That so-called "stormwater utility" was always just a dishonest shell game to hide tax increases. For many decades, the city has been dealing with stormwater out of the regular city budget with tax money. This was hived off as a "utility" to cover up a tax increase some years ago. They kept the official tax rate the same, saying they were just adding a utility fee. As if voters could not see through that bullshit. Now they are playing similar dishonest games to hide another tax increase. After raising our city taxes a whopping ten percent last year, they are now back to their crooked shell game in an election year. Shame on you, Mayor Sadler.
( September 13th, 2023 @ 8:25 am )
There are lots of shady things in the city's "stormwater utility", beginning with its revenues being used for other things in the budget than were set out in the resolution that created the "stormwater utility". This Frankenstein monster needs a major challenge, either administratively or in the courts.

One scam attached to it a couple of years ago was billing owners of multi-family properties at the commercial rate for their outbuildings and driveways, but not the house or apartment building. These properties already pay more than if the same building was single family because of dividing the billings and then imposing minimums. This unfair and unequal situtation is made even worse by then piling on with falsely calling the outbuidlings and driveway "commercial" which give them a higher rate and imposes yet another minimum. When the main building is not commercial, it is arbitrary and capricious to call the driveway and outbuildings "commerical". The city is blatantly ripping off property owners who fall into this category and they need to be held to account for this outright fraud.

This outrage even applies to a building that is zoned residential and occupied by a single family but on the tax records shows as "multi-family". It is not applied to residential property that is zoned commercial, or to residential property where people conduct business out of the homes. The whole system is arbitrary and capricious and ripe for a major challenge to bring it down.

There are also other ways in which the system as set up in Washington fails to comply with the state stature in ways that massively overcharge some and undercharge others. The system needs a challenge as it is arbitrary and capricious in many ways.

What is also needed is a very thorough accounting of what has been done with the money collected under it.
Mark said:
( September 13th, 2023 @ 7:28 am )
I agree to better over site of the storm water revenues with specific designations and identifying programs. I do not agree to a salary hold on positions. It is nearly impossible to attract qualified people to government from outside the “network” unless there is competitive pay.

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