Sunday, June 17, 2012

"Moore" Sewer Problems in Jeffersonville

HARBESON: Sewer debate has turned into a mess

CLARK COUNTY — It’s clear that Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore regrets signing the ordinance that included the controversial change in how summer sewer usage is determined. (NOTE: See here and here for more background information.) He knows he made a mistake by not vetoing an ordinance that contained a provision he was strongly against. Now he’s trying to find a way out but he’s working inside government, which is like being trapped inside a well-used Port-a-Potty that’s been tipped over with the door against the ground.

Moore told me that the requirement to purchase a meter for outdoor water faucets is the only thing he objected to in the ordinance and none of this would have happened if he could use a line-item veto. I guess he’s learned the hard way that once an ordinance is on his desk, a veto is the only action to take if there is a provision he disagrees with.

The main reason this situation caught my interest is that there are very interesting principles being articulated as both sides debate the issue. Moore has been clear that he believes the residents of Jeffersonville should not pay for something they are not using.

I agree completely.

He’s not the only government official making this case. The officials who believe that mandating a meter is the best way to determine usage are really saying the same thing — it’s just the other side of the coin. They want to make sure that people who are paying less during the summer are doing so because their higher water use is indeed not going into the sewer system.

So if both sides really do believe in the principle that people should pay for what they use, why don’t they apply that concept universally and consistently? After all, there are many things the city of Jeffersonville forces people to pay for that they don’t use and we don’t hear the mayor or the council trying to figure out how to fairly charge users of those programs.

The real problem for many residents is that the government is telling people they now have to purchase a product so they can make sure they only pay for sewer service they actually used. I can understand why people don’t want to do that. But I can also understand why it could be helpful to use meters. If the point is to pay for usage, then meters could certainly help by getting an actual accounting of outdoor water usage.

It’s always hard to accept something like this because it means that someone is making money off of a government mandate — one of the major problems when governments monopolize a service.

This is probably why I see huge signs in Floyds Knobs that say “NO SEWERS.” Someone up there understands that once you are on the grid, you are stuck with government involvement and the increased control in other areas that comes after the collectivization of poo disposal.

There is another reason this issue caught my interest. Now that Moore has been unable to use the political process to keep the old sewer relief plan in place, he said he plans to ignore the ordinance and continue to give summer relief to people even if they don’t purchase a meter.

This means Moore plans to ignore a law he believes is unjust. That’s civil disobedience — at least when a private individual does it. I’m not real sure what to call it when a mayor ignores a law he thinks is unjust, particularly one that he signed in the first place.

Is this really civil disobedience? Or is it just another government official who thinks he is above the law and would never support a private individual who decided to do the same thing and ignore a law the mayor endorsed? I can’t answer those questions, but I still like it when anyone refuses to obey a law he believes is unjust.

— Clark County resident Debbie Harbeson has been told she should pay higher sewer bills because she’s so full of it.

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