Ness To Stop Duluth's 'sprinkling allowance'?




I've generally been a fan of Ness' approach to city finances (not that it matters - I didn't vote for or against him anyway).

The latest idea that him and his administration came up with though doesn't seem all that thought out to me.

The city currently bills water/sewer users based on their winter water usage, figuring that a larger amount of water use during the summer is for water that never makes it into the sewage system (such as lawn mowing). Thus the city doesn't bill that extra sewage the same that they bill the water. Your sewage bill is based off what your usage is during the winter months. The "sprinkling allowance".

The city administration is asking the city council to eliminate the allowance, which Ness calls a discount to residents. Instead he wants to bill residents sewage based on their full water bill.

Hello?! This is water that wasn't injected into the sewage system. How can you call that a discount? I call it not paying for something you didn't use.

His second argument in favor of the proposal to eliminate it is that it promotes conservation of water. Ness says, "by having a policy in which we’re essentially subsidizing sprinkling of lawns." I don't understand where he comes up with this. The policy doesn't subsidize the sprinkling of lawns - it creates an environment by which the city doesn't overcharge it's customers for sprinkling their lawns.

The conservation concern is, to me, a joke. We live next to the third largest freshwater lake (by volume) in the WORLD. City water comes straight from a pipe that sticks out into the lake. Do you really think that having the residents of Duluth water their lawn will affect the lake? To top that off, whatever water gets put on the lawn will, eventually, end up back in the lake anyway.

I'm impressed to see that Ness is taking an 'outside the box' approach to fixing the city finances, but there's a point where the proposals go too far. This rates right up there with his idea to charge people to call 911 (an idea I wish I would have had time to write about as well - a real "winner").



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