Yet, this is our world.
It is reality, like it or not. Some of the problems we have created ourselves. Some are the product of time, age and inevitability.
Certainly, Cleveland and Bradley County government leaders are doing all they can to live within their means while not impacting their constituencies with higher taxes nor imposing the threat of such increases. Local jurisdictions are working to contain costs, but only so much can be done.
Any community that prides itself on growth and providing for its residents must also be prepared to accept the ramifications of such modernizations. Among those are serving the people in ways that are most needed and practical, as well as maintaining a modern infrastructure whose key enemies are time and wear.
To consider the types of decisions faced by local government and school leaders, perhaps it is wise to bring perspective by pondering the day-to-day events that occur within our households and under our own roofs.
Just for starters ...
Our bright and shiny new cars, pickups and SUVs — once the monuments of our driveways and the envy of our neighbors — will age. Their colorful packaging will fall victim to dents, scratches and roadway boo-boos. Their parts will grow old and their engines will lose reliability. In short, they must be repaired and eventually replaced — at the expense of wallets that are already stretched too thin.
Our gorgeous home appliances that once baked with the best, preserved among the finest, and cleaned and dried almost daily, too, will go bad. First, they will require costly repair. Subsequently, they will die.
Our lifesaving and comfort-bringing HVAC, air-conditioning and heating systems — like all things mechanical — will develop a glitch. Some will be minor. In time, the malfunctions will become major.
Our roofs will develop leaks.
Our TVs will blow a circuit.
Our lawn mowers will huff and puff until their tiny engines will no longer hum, and their once sharp blades will rotate a final revolution and will trim their last blade of grass.
Our plumbing will take a splash.
Our carpets will stain and reek of yesteryear’s odors.
Our mattresses will sag and our bed frames will collapse.
Our furniture will lose its knobs, inherit scratches and scrapes from tiny hands and too many moves, and will lose its distinction of beauty and contemporary design.
These, among other items of manmade creation, represent our own infrastructure at home. In their infancy, they are sparkling and new, and their only flaws are that time and use will shorten their lives one day, one month and one year at a time.
Like people, they are not immortal. They too will fade away. Time, and a sense of usefulness, are not on their side.
And so is the lifespan of mankind’s bigger toys — our road systems, our government structures, our schools ... in short, our cities. And this includes our utility systems.
Cleveland Utilities is facing one such dilemma. It is called age. In this case, our public utility that serves some 30,000 customers is working proactively to upgrade its sanitary wastewater system via the comprehensive sewer rehabilitation program called SCOPE 10 (Strategic Commitment to Protect the Environment). At a cost of $30 million, it will span 10 years.
Other towns are being forced by EPA to do the same and the federal mandate is creating sewer rate increases to residential customers ranging from 50 to 300 percent. CU’s self-designed initiative is allowing for a less painful 5 percent sewer rate hike to residential customers effective July 1. Additional sewer rate increases of comparable amounts will follow over the next few years in order to pay for the cost of SCOPE 10.
It isn’t about a government gone wild.
It isn’t about a public utility attempting to abuse its patrons.
It’s about age. It’s about Old Man Time. It’s about maintaining an infrastructure whose modern conveniences would be sorely missed if it fell too badly into disarray.
The coming sewer rate hike will add from $1.43 to $2.53 per month to the average residential wastewater bill.
Like we said, no one likes tax increases nor rate hikes of any kind.
But time is too often the most cruel of dictators.