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Confehr: Resolve to put an end to boo-boos and get real

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

I was going to ask Santa Claus for a gift that's probably impossible to deliver; prevent any mistakes I'd make in life, this newspaper, and to be able to spot other boo-boos before the press rolls.

That all-inclusive request is more like asking the genie appearing in smoke after flowing from a bottle that's been rubbed just right. Like most wishes genies grant, something would backfire and the genie would return to the bottle.

Better ways to deal with bug-a-boos include taking time and responsibility, knowing that no human is perfect.

So many obstacles prove old solutions' value. Does it seem easier to complain, instead of compliment? Is that what makes attack ads during political campaigns effective? Why is it easier to get people to argue against something, instead of backing a cause? Wouldn't it be better to acknowledge simple truths and proceed?

For example: The three utilities attached to Lewisburg's City Council have their own charters. Each is different in its own way. Councilman Hershel Davis pointed that out Monday before the council met in City Hall.

It's confusing, he said.

Differences exist between water, power and natural gas service. Another councilman asked Councilman Quinn Brandon Stewart, a gas board director, if that utility charges fees if a pipe is close to a house. It doesn't. Gas, however, competes with electricity, but gaslights aren't used anymore.

As for the controversy on charging for sewer service when the pipe's close enough for a tap, even if the resident has a working septic tank: This one defies and supports logic at the same time. Sanitary sewer service greatly improved public health.

You may know that basement cisterns held water collected from the roof and well water was pumped there for ready supply. The constant temperature cooled homes in the summer and kept them warm in the winter to a certain degree. The down side: outhouses and leaky septic tanks contaminate ground water.

Now, "It's against the law to have a septic tank in the city in a new subdivision," Davis said. Those with septic tanks established before the law enjoy the grandfather right of not having to connect, but still have availability as a safety net if a tank fails. And some complain about the sewer bill.

At least one's remarkably vocal. His question is: Why pay for something you don't get? But the problem is bigger than the exceptions. It's not just public health. It's the federal government that's adding another $2 million to a system it funded decades ago. Now, the rate structure must support repayment of borrowed money.

Davis indicated there could be 15 homes in this pickle that's existed for years. It's like being a little bit pregnant. The issue has grown.

The council faces other problems. One is hiring a new city manager who can't solve the utility issue without cooperation with the water board.

Solutions include: maintain status quo; make this the next big decision; and put it on the ballot in May even if it's just in two of five wards. Other solutions exist. Ask Santa Claus or a genie.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.