published Friday, February 8th, 2013

Drew's views

HEADLINE: Chattanooga sewer bill fees modified after outcry

THE RECAP: In response to complaints about new billing payment methods and fees on sewer bills, the City of Chattanooga announced on Thursday that WWTA, Chattanooga and City of Rossville sewer users will no longer have to pay a $3 "convenience fee" for payments by check.

DREW'S VIEW: After eight blunder-filled years presiding over Chattanooga, Mayor Ron Littlefield's administration made perhaps its worst decision ever when it came to the new sewer billing procedure.

First, the mayor's office allowed an out-of-state company to manage sewer billing services (apparently Littlefield didn't think the unemployed residents of Chattanooga would be interested in working). Then sewer customers were slapped with a $3 convenience fee for paying their bill online or by telephone using a credit card, debit card or check, or making a payment at a payment center. In other words, unless you paid your sewer bill by mailing in a check, your bill was automatically $3 higher.

The problem is, under Littlefield's "solution," sewer customers will still pay the $3 service fee unless they mail in a check or sign up for recurring payments via echeck.

If you pay your sewer bill at a payment center, you still pay a $3 charge. If you pay your sewer bill over the phone, you still pay a $3 charge. If you pay your sewer bill online, you still pay a $3 charge -- unless, that is, you sign up for monthly drafts from your checking account.

Maybe the mayor thought it was cute to pretend to get rid of an outrageous fee, even though he knew the majority of sewer customers would still have to pay it. But it's not.

Maybe he thought no one would notice. But he's wrong.

If you don't agree that you should have to pay $3 for the "convenience" of paying your sewer bill, let Mayor Littlefield know. Send the mayor a copy your sewer bill to the following address:

City of Chattanooga

Mayor's Office

101 E. 11th Street

Chattanooga, TN 37402

Maybe if Littlefield gets enough sewer bills in the mail, he'll actually work to fix the problem, rather than inventing another bogus solution.

•••

HEADLINE: U.S. Postal Service to end Saturday mail delivery

THE RECAP: After 150 years of six-day-a-week mail delivery, the U.S. Postal Service announced Wednesday it will stop delivering mail on Saturdays. The Postal Service will switch to five-day-a-week delivery in August, but will continue to deliver packages on Saturday.

DREW'S VIEW: For possibly the first time in recent Postal Service history, fiscal responsibility and sound judgment won, nostalgia and tradition lost, and taxpayers are better off.

Last year alone, the Postal Service hemorrhaged $15.9 billion -- and taxpayers had to pay the bailout bill. The decision to stop Saturday service is expected to save the Postal Service -- and, ultimately, taxpaying Americans -- $2 billion annually.

Contrary to what many overly dramatic American Postal Workers Union and the National Association of Letter Carriers shills claim, few tears are being shed over the decision to discontinue Saturday service. A June 2012 New York Times/CBS News poll found that about 70 percent of Americans supported ending Saturday delivery.

Saturday delivery alone won't cure what ails the Postal Services. Americans' near-universal preference to communicate via emails and text messages, rather than mailing letters, as well as the growing number of people favor paying bills online rather than through the mail have made the Postal Service nearly unnecessary. Add to that the Postal Service's ridiculous pricing structure, in which the price to mail a letter across town is the same as to mail a letter to Hawaii, and the failure of stamp prices to keep up with inflation, and it's no wonder the Postal Service is struggling. Actually, it's more surprising that the Postal Service is still even in existence.

And if it weren't?

There would be plenty of companies who would be more than happy to deliver mail cheaper and faster than the Postal Service ever did -- and at no cost to taxpayers.

•••

HEADLINE: Hays State Prison warden, Clay Tatum, ousted

THE RECAP: Roughly 24 hours after a fourth Hays State Prison inmate was killed since Dec. 19 of last year, Georgia corrections officials ordered the warden of the maximum-security facility replaced. Clay Tatum had been warden at the prison in Trion, Ga., for over 2 years.

DREW'S VIEW: It is an outrage that it took four deaths, the stabbing of two guards and an extortion scandal over the course of less than two months before Tatum was fired. The Georgia Department of Corrections has blood on its hands because they didn't take decisive corrective action after the first inmate was killed. Everyone from the Department of Corrections Commissioner Brian Owens on down should be held accountable for the inmates' deaths and the guards' injuries.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.

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aae1049 said...

The City fails to maintain infrastructure, and at the same time spends lavishly on non chartered pursuits, such as creating 4 new Department, 1) Dept of Multicultural Affairs that does nothing, 2) The Mecca of Waste, the Dept. of Education Arts and Culture, 3) Dept of General Services, the Mecca of Bid Corruption, 4) and a Division of Recreation that has a Public Art Manager, and Assistant Public Art Manage, and a slew of outrageous spending.

What if the City of Chattanooga actually followed what the voters enacted through a referendum as the City's mission. I think roads would get paved, sewers would be maintained, and the citizens of Chattanooga would not feel like they are getting robbed.

February 8, 2013 at 12:27 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

"Convenience" for us or for City Hall? "Convenience" for people or for more dollars?

February 8, 2013 at 4:07 a.m.
Handleit said...

Once again the mayor, wwta, city council. and county commission have decided that Chattanooga does not have anyone smart enough locally to manage a local job or local government business. This time they went all the way to California. I am tired of my wallet being abused by local government and outsiders. Keep work at home. Don't send it out of state. I want to urge everyone to vote against the present council people that are running for re-election. It's time to throw the bums out.

February 8, 2013 at 10:06 a.m.
fairmon said...

It is time for a 100% turnover in the city council. Award the one defeated by the largest margin the blue rhino for display at their home. The first order of business for the new mayor and council should be restructuring and reducing the size of city government.

February 9, 2013 at 6:11 a.m.
fairmon said...

A $3 fee for an average sewer charge of $20 per month is around 15%, pretty heavy for those that can least afford it. A typical action of this mayor and council that increased the cost of being a city resident about 19% last year with the property tax and other increases so their frivilous non essential spending was not interrupted.

February 9, 2013 at 6:17 a.m.
fairmon said...

3 days per week mail delivery would not be detrimental to anyone. The cost of a stamp should reflect the actual cost of handling a piece of mail. Franking privileges should be eliminated. The post office has the typical top heavy over paid under worked hierarchy seen in most government functions. Generally those doing the work are efficient and productive.

February 9, 2013 at 6:33 a.m.
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