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Letters From Our Readers
March 10, 1999


Wednesday, March 10, 1999
Section: Opinion
Page: A11
Column: Readers' Forum

The Times' reporting of Richmond's sewage crisis was long overdue and indicative of extreme mismanagement in City Hall for many years.

The Times, unfortunately, overlooked comparison with the West County Wastewater District, which serves the northern parts of Richmond, where I live. The wastewater district's annual sewer charge per home is only $109 compared to the $166 currently being charged to other Richmond homeowners.

I believe the reason for the lower rates in the West County Wastewater District is because they had the foresight to upgrade their system years ago. In fact, I recall a recent story in the Times reporting that the district held a bond-burning ceremony once the upgrade was finally paid for.

I agree with Councilman Tom Butt that rates should have been raised over the years to build up reserves for the future. Instead the city seems to prefer crisis management spending money paying out claims instead of fixing the problem.

The Times' review of claims against the city for sewage backups totaled 77 in the past five years, but 18 days later the city could still not tell the Times how much money had been paid out in claims. This is unacceptable.

It appears Isiah Turner, the new city manager, has recognized the drastic steps that must be taken to restore confidence in City Hall. What Richmond needs in City Hall is leaders who can prepare our city for the future instead of waiting to react once the problem is unavoidable.

Steve Harvey


Harvey is a Richmond planning commissioner.