ROCHESTER - With 9.1 percent inflation, record high prices for gasoline, electricity, eggs, fish - pretty much everything you need to stay alive - many in Rochester are hoping the City Council will consider putting the brakes on rampant spending they've indulged in up to now.
The new council thus far has been pretty much inclined to do everything the city manager and department heads have wanted, from buying a $300,000 parcel of land in East Rochester for a third fire station, to hiring a Community Health Coordinator to financing city-run, government funded daycare.
No it's not all specifically Rochester taxpayer money but the incredible amount of spending going on by cities and towns across the nation has given rise to the attendant inflation, which has virtually cut most workers' paychecks by about five percent.
Now a typical water and sewer hookup proposed by the city is said to be around $4,300 for the average household, which is a stunning add-on for a family looking to set up a household in Rochester.
What's more stunning is that the packet released by the city in advance of last month's public hearing never reports on what the average cost would be. Don't the city powers-that-be think that would be useful information?
Even more troubling about the proposals that will be voted on tonight is the inclusion of waivers for the fee, which in the packet supplied by the city gives no parameters regarding how and why the waiver would be granted.
Couple of questions on this would be how much staff will be dedicated to determining who gets waivers, why is there no criteria for waivers in the packet and what's to prevent this practice from being an arbitrary and secretive practice for those who "deserve" it as the city moves forward.
Many believe this to be a dangerous precedent, including resident and state rep Cliff Newton who said at a the public hearing on July 16 that the waiver provision could open the door to lawsuits if someone was displeased they didn't get one and someone else did.
"There could be abuses," he told City Council. "There should be specific policies in place."
Resident Susan Rice stated she thought deficit spending running rampant in water and sewer department was a likely culprit in the newly proposed fees.
"I blame this on the sewer advisory board and the city manager," she said.
Meanwhile, resident Sarah Harrington pleaded with councilors to be aware of the crumbling economy, which is already in a recession after two quarters of negative growth.
"9.1 percent inflation, rising mortgage rates, gas and construction costs are all weighing on people looking to come live in Rochester," she said. "Let's be sensitive to incoming taxpayers."