Tuesday in the blog, "The Spirit of '76 rekindling?" (below), I reported on a school district whose chief financial officer, Jimmy Loredo, refused to pay the $42,000 per month (!) increase in its water bill for flood control improvements that became effective in March. (El Paso Independent School District's water bill increased $56,700 per month!)
Wednesday, El Paso's mayor, John Cook, and the Public Service Board met with a contentious public over increases in water bills to pay for flood control projects.
As a result, a standing room only meeting with private citizens, small business owners and school district officials resulted in a cut in fees paid by all. While the school districts will now pay only 25% of their previous assessments for the flood control, the reductions are temporary, rebuilding to their full current levels by 2011.
A defiant Jimmy Loredo responded by saying, "They're throwing us a bone, but we're not going to bite" as he noted the new temporarily lowered fees will still cost the district a $300,000 annual increase for flood control projects, "a big chunk of money that we frankly can't afford."
All of this controversy is the result of August 2006 floods that caused millions of dollars in damage to El Paso in what was called a "once in 500 year flood." As one city representative who raised a valid point said, "I don't know if the world will even exist in 500 years ... why do we have to pay for all of this in the next five years?"
It's good to see governing officials can still hear, and respond, to the outcries of an angry public. But some, like Ysleta school district's Jimmy Loredo, remain defiant.
Just a word of caution to governing bodies. Has a dangerous precedent been set by your officials reacting to the demands of angry citizens?!
Take heed, the Spirit of '76 pangs of defiance have been "thrown a bone."