Open letter to the Mayor and the City Council:
The City of Warwick’s original sewer system design and implementation began as a story of environmental preservation and correction, of benefit to all people and the land, but over a long period of time has rather become one of delays, cost overruns, ignoring citizens’ best interests and politically-motivated financial decisions. I am one of the many victims of a project that was meant to benefit the citizens and our environment that might have improved my quality of life, but that has not happened, but it’s not too late.
I find myself in a most unenviable situation; rising taxes, fixed income, physical disability and limited assets; all converging to deliver to me few good options. I have a failed cesspool that requires periodic pumping, at least once per month and often more, costing $220 each time the odorous truck arrives. Pumpings must occur with increased frequency as the ground freezes disallowing the soil to absorb more. As a result of this problem, we are forced to take our dirty laundry to a laundromat and flush the toilet fewer times hopefully giving us a few additional days between pumpings. My wife and I are both elderly and physically unable to resume any gainful employment that might make our expenses less menacing.
Like all other citizens my wife and I have waited and waited through protracted delays for the sewer construction to add a little relief to our stressful lives. So why take the time to write a letter? Because, all of you have the amazing power to do the right thing for your constituents and take action now that will truly benefit us. I understand that many of the delays, if not most, have been memorialized in the history of the Sewer Authority, so I will resist the urge to censure the poor planning and questionable financial decisions of the past, but rather will focus on the solutions that will help us now:
1.Reverse the politically-driven legislation that allows people to simply not tie in to the sewers, thus making them richer, but the Sewer Authority poorer and without resources to keep construction and tie-in costs to a more palatable level. Those who do not share the costs force the rest of us to pay even more; all should share in the costs.
2.Assume the costs of paving our streets. We have already paid for street paving once when we paid our taxes, and we are now expected to pay once again for the cost of paving. I can imagine no argument or legal standard whatsoever that might justify such a charge. Either National Grid or the city should absorb these costs; there is a budget category for paving, so I urge you to use it.
I have read that the city budget is stretched out of recognition, but please recognize that mine is, too. The city can raise taxes when new revenue is required; I cannot. I repeat that my income is fixed, due to physical disability I can no longer work for extra income, and my assets are quite limited; I simply don’t know how I will pay the cost of paving, plus the cost of the tie-in to my house, and the sewer assessment; even an amortized monthly payment may be unaffordable. At some point in the next few months I must make a decision regarding the sale of my home, but I’ve never been given even the approximate cost for anything. After living in Warwick for 70 years and paying hefty taxes most of those years, I resent the fact that my elected officials have the power to deprive me of a home in which I planned to retire; let me make one more position very clear: I cannot afford to continue to live here after the seemingly unending costs of the sewer system and paving are delivered to my door. A story of environmental and community improvement may turn out to be one of my own financial ruin. Will it have been worth it? To whom?
Please take this communication seriously, and please see your way clear to save my home from sale. I’m too old and sick to fight, all I can do is compose this letter in the hopes that you all can empathize with my situation. This is not imaginary; I’m now in an untenable situation that only my elected officials can turn around. Please do so and respond to me.
Jerry M. Hatfield