Is Lumberton Next?
There’s news about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Is Lumberton next? People have wondered how could something like this happened in the United States of America. When there’s no interest in election and the people getting elected think global warming and protecting the water supply are not essential, de-regulation becomes the next step. The people of Flint, Michigan were not involved in their government, didn’t hold their elected officials accountable and voter turn-out was very low. Sounds familiar? As a result, those in charge gambled with the health of the residents and now they have no access to safe drinking water. I found the page of a blogger in Michigan and he was giving details of what was going on and the possibility of this happening but because the things he said were not popular, many made claims that he was a pot-stirrer, angry and crying wolf. Again, sounds familiar? When you elect people that are not accountable and don’t have your best interest at heart, things like this happen. If your representatives do not care about the fiscal shape of a city, what makes you think they’re not going to take short cuts when it comes to your drinking water?
Just a couple of weeks ago, I blogged about the fact that the City of Lumberton does not have enough money to repair one of the wells at our sewer lagoon. Danny Davis, Public Works Director, claimed the well was not needed and we could manage as long as another well does not go out. Excuse me, but if the well was not needed then why is it there? Prior to him finally addressing the matter, there were claims of foul odors in the water and discoloration in certain areas but he gave some lame excuse and those bringing it to his attention, Tommy Dukes and Cora Rogers, shrugged it off like it didn’t matter; despite the complaints coming from those they were elected to represent. As an elected official, the only training that is required is for water training. Board members are informed that the water supply is the life of the city and they must do any and every thing to keep it protected. I don’t think that’s happening in Lumberton.
This board has no problem with raising the water rates. This board is not concerned that there’s constant inaccuracies in regards to water billing. This board cannot tell you how much money is currently in the budget because the city clerk does not know how to access that information in BBI but they don’t have a problem charging overinflated prices for water services because “state laws require WSOM to be self-sufficient.” How can we know if WSOM is self-sufficient if the person that maintain the accounting records have to rely on guess-timations regarding the budget. Since February 19, 2015, this board has been like a dog chasing its tail looking for a way to secure the $650,000 in matching funds to secure the $2.5 million dollar Army Corp of Engineer grant for water/sewer improvements but the board revealed at a recent meeting that it didn’t have the $32,000 (more or less) needed to repair a damaged well at the sewer lagoon. How’s that? The board eliminated garbage collection and outsourced it to WastePro for $120,000/year. They claimed the elimination of jobs and need payment for a new garbage truck would save the city money. So, where are the savings? Surely they should have accumulated enough savings to pay for the repair of a well; something that’s essential to the maintenance of our water supply. The fact that there’s not enough money saved to pay for this repair will probably be used to justify another water rate increase since it seems that WSOM is not self-sufficient. Here’s the kicker, it is self-sufficient but it’s grossly mismanaged. It is my belief that money from WSOM is being used to sustain the General Fund and that’s one of the reasons why there’s a problem getting a complete audit. It’s also interesting that there’s money to give out pay raises (more are needed), retain seasonal workers all year long and keep retired workers on the payroll but there’s no money for necessary repairs. Keep looking the other way and Lumberton could end up like Flint, Michigan. On my way to Lowe’s to buy a water filter. Stay warm!