It is simply inexcusable that three members of the Urban County Council — Amanda Bledsoe, Fred Brown and Jennifer Scutchfield — dodged their responsibility and voted against a necessary increase in the sewer rates to fund improvements in Fayette County's storm water and sanitary sewer systems.
Politically it may have been an easy "nay" since there was no doubt the council would pass the increase to pay for work the city committed to in 2008 under an agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address violations of the Clean Water Act.
The bottom line is that Lexington can either spend money to fix our problems or spend it to pay fines for violating our agreement.
For those who want to mutter about the demands of a huge federal bureaucracy, be thankful the EPA forced this community to deal with a long, dangerous history of flooding, sewer overflows, property damage and, in the most extreme cases, lost lives because of our inadequate sewer and stormwater systems. Not to mention the impact of untreated sewage flowing into streams and ultimately the Kentucky River.
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Charlie Martin, director of the Division of Air and Water Quality for Lexington, said late last year that work already completed under the EPA agreement has cut by about 51 million gallons a year the amount of sewage flowing into Fayette County streams.
But we're not done, and that's why the council had to increase sewer rates, in order to be able to sell bonds to help finance about $590 million in work still remaining.
For a household using an average of 4,000 gallons of water a month, the charge will rise from $21.75 today to $24.36 July 1, and again in July of 2016 to $27.29.
With these increases we're pretty much in line with sewer fees in most Central Kentucky communities, still below Richmond, Winchester and Frankfort.
Bledsoe, Brown and Scutchfield represent an unfortunate trend, more common at state and federal levels, of politicians who want government services for their constituents but don't accept the responsibility of paying for them.
Thank goodness the other 12 members of the council didn't see it that way.