For over a century, Russell Corporation provided Alexander City with a community partner that helped offset many of the infrastructure investments needed for a town like ours to grow. While we are forever grateful for the impact that Russell produced for our area, for us to continue to supply quality and reliable services, as well as pursue economic development opportunities, we must address the financial shortcomings stemming from our utilities.
During a recent work session, Mayor Woody Baird and his staff presented the city council with a proposed rate increase. Under the proposal, there would be a five-year plan to double sewer rates in year one, with a seven percent increase per year for the following four years. Admittedly, passing along such a sizeable increase to our citizens is the last thing that I would want to do, especially on the heels of a global pandemic that altered the finances of many. However, when our city engineer alerts us that our sewer system is currently facing an annual deficit of $3.2 million, we can no longer afford to dismiss the issue.
A combination of prior infrastructure neglect and strategic foresight has placed us in this position. As a member of a previous administration, I take full responsibility for allowing us to reach this point. As we move forward, I will diligently work with our mayor and council to ensure we never find ourselves here again.
For all the progress made during the last half-decade, one area where we must do better is how we communicate and engage with our citizens. An informed electorate is the most fundamental aspect of a democracy. We have an obligation as elected officials to be transparent in our decision-making process. Under the leadership of council president Audrey Colvin, we will be hosting a series of town halls to notify and explain to the community the proposed rate increase.
The town halls are not designed to persuade but rather to inform and educate. It is our responsibility to relay why there is a need for the increase, how the additional revenue will be spent and how it will impact your monthly statement. In the interim, I encourage anyone with any questions to contact the mayor's office or your city council representative.
Our community is one built on resiliency and civic pride. Please know that we are all working to continue to make this a great place to work and call home. Thank you for your patience and continued support.
Alexander City City Council District 3