October 16, 2002
The other day, in the course of routinely paying my household bills, I had to rub my eyes in shock. Surely this was a mistake. The town of Basalt water bill for the quarter showed the amount due as $416.07!
What is going on here, I thought. We are a family of two and use only the normal amount of domestic water for baths and laundry. We scrupulously follow the rules for watering our lawn, which is of modest size, and we turn it off on rain days.
My wife, who was equally amazed, called the town to inquire and was referred to the Water Works Department where she got a message answering machine. She left our phone number, but to date nobody has responded.
Of course I paid the bill to avoid having our water shut off. I have since talked to neighbors and found this to be the same with others, although with inexplicable variations in the amounts billed.
I have learned that this increase was unanimously approved by the trustees of the Town of Basalt apparently in the guise of water conservation. Even in Denver, where the water problem is far more acute, they have not resorted to such drastic action.
It is apparent that the Basalt water charge is nothing but a hidden tax increase, since the alternate day lawn-watering program in effect was sufficient to accomplish the conservation purpose.
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In point of fact, the only thing more that could be done by residents to reduce water usage would be to cease all lawn watering next summer, which, apart from being wholly unnecessary, would result in an unsightly blight on our town. Is that what our trustees want?
This surreptitious tax increase is just one more instance of letting the town trustees run rampant over the interests of the people they purport to represent. I hope that everyone will remember this when they next have an opportunity to vote for trustees.