The face of Springhill water rate increase

Dear Editor:

When you turn on the evening news or sit through a city council meeting you get a stark reminder of how much in common Washington DC & Springhill Louisiana have.  Both institutions have serious issues with transparency, spending, accountability, and consider themselves less than a step below our creator.  This is not our grandparent’s town or country anymore.

Our focus is primarily on money or financial issues these days.  People are a foregone conclusion. This was recently displayed right here in our little town.  A page out of the DC swamp’s playbook has been used on the people of this town.  Every year this page is played.  Y’all know the one….” The State of Louisiana is coming to take us over!”  “If the state comes in, we could be out of a job!”    Interesting thing is even with a new council, your playbook never changes…we need more revenue, and you do nothing about your spending problem.  You don’t do your job very well.  Might be time to think about retirement or unemployment.

I can do nothing about the inept city government of Springhill.  Y’all voted these folks in. I can however, shed a little light on how this will affect our seniors and homeowners in Springhill.

The average Senior/homeowner living within the town of Springhill is mandated to pay for water/sewer/garbage and is living on $600-1,200 per month.  Many of the seniors here in Springhill were International Paper workers during the city’s booming times.  They bought a home, raised a family, and retired right here.  In 2019, the first year of our current mayor’s first term, water rates went up almost 67%. Within the first year of the mayor’s second term, they are set to go up an additional 28%.  These numbers do not look like much to the shell game masters at City Hall but, to the elderly, it’s the end amount or total bill that keeps them up at night worrying if they are going to be able to stay in their homes. 

Our seniors will tighten their belts because this is how they were raised. What will they sacrifice to stay in their homes?  Food? Medicine? Car insurance?  The base rate and all the other charges on their new monthly bill, for now 1,000 gallons instead of 2,000 gallons of water is now $75.66. Who uses just 1,000 gallons when the average is 3,000/month?  In 2014 those same residents were paying $56.50 for up to 3,000 gallons.  Factoring in Social Security’s minimal pay increases and rising Medicare costs for health insurance, seniors are not enjoying the golden years here in the “town” of Springhill.  It isn’t just about losing their home.  It’s about their very survival.  These are folks have worked for everything they have, and it is deeply ingrained in them to pay their way.  It’s about independence, living up to their responsibilities, and not being a burden on their families.  With a yea or a nay, ALL the citizens in this community are being forced to pay our way out of extremely irresponsible decisions by City Hall. 

While seniors and homeowners in Springhill are tightening their belts, City Hall is contemplating how they will spend their newfound revenue granted to them from City Council and spend they will.  You see, our present mayor, got away with claiming the first jump in water rates in 2019 was not his fault.  City Hall got that revenue and what did they do with it? City Hall didn’t improve water quality, pay down water debt or address crumbling infrastructure. What they did was blow it on personal whims for employees and blame it on Covid.   Not this time Mr. Mayor, you own this one.  Between writing off unpaid debt, purchasing frivolous items from an account in the red, and no plan for maintaining the city’s infrastructure to the cost of almost what the water department is in the red at ($300k) how will you justify next years rate increases?  It will not be the 2%, that is the minimum raise, it will be much more because you fail to admit your administration has a spending problem.  It will naturally be higher because we are bleeding people. That translates into less people to sustain your spending addiction within the water department, and you need more from whomever is left. 

Mr. Mayor, your tenure as a “banking” man taught you how to spend other people’s money quite well.  Your scare tactics do not hold water for anyone in this town except for those wishing to keep their city job. There are folks who want this town to go back to what it was in the 70’s, the heart of the boom where we had at least three times the population and revenue was a plenty.  The “salt of the earth” people of this town, are being told sit down, shut up, and pay your bill or you will be finding other living accommodations.  Springhill has lost their city status, and we are now a town with approximately 4K people.  Roughly half of that 4K are paying water customers today.  Seniors/homeowners are the target here to dig City Hall out yet again for their uncontrolled and irresponsible spending habits.


Reva Rice