May 21, 2008: Running amok in Fleischmanns

in

To The Editor:
You thought Communism was all but dead, but it is alive and well here in Fleischmanns where the politburo (aka the village board) is pursuing some demented version of the collective good by trampling on individual rights.
Here is how the board, in its infinite wisdom, decided to reimburse sewer hookups: give more to people who spent less and give less to people who spent more, and this in view of the fact that no one had any control whatsoever over what their hook-up would cost!
Individuals who spent $5,000 or less got 50 percent while those unlucky enough to have had to spend more still got just $2,500. Twenty-one percent of all hook-ups cost in excess of $5,000. Since these homeowners had their reimbursements capped at $2,500, it means that 21 percent of village residents wound up subsidizing the other 79 percent.
This whacky plan was presented by the board’s guru, Delaware Engineering at a board meeting I attended in January. In a letter to the board shortly after that meeting I pointed out that Delaware Engineering’s proposal was flawed and unfair, and that the board should simply reimburse everybody proportionately. Trustee Fred Woller was kind enough to get back to me on this, but pointed out that under a proportionate reimbursement plan I personally would get only about $300 more, whereas someone else with three properties and therefore qualifying for three separate reimbursements would wind up getting less.
Excuse me, but what right has this board to force me to subsidize anybody else? Is the $300 they so cavalierly dismissed their money? Did they earn it?
The block grant sourced by the MARK Group was for the benefit of the entire village, not just for certain individuals or groups designated by the board. Legally and ethically, the funds should have been disbursed in proportion to what each individual spent. That’s called equal treatment under the law, one of the most fundamental principles of our democracy, and if the board doesn’t understand this, then they should resign en masse for being unfit to govern.
Trustee Harriet Grossman’s statement that “we care about this village” notwithstanding, it is well to remember that good intentions are not synonymous with good judgment. (The road to hell is paved with good intentions.) Thus in view of this reimbursement travesty, I must echo Achilles Stefanis’ call in last week’s letter section for a referendum on any future matters involving bonding, debt or taxes.
At the risk of insulting the board with yet another civics lesson, I remind them that democratic government in this country is built on the principles that elected officials represent their constituents, not dictate to them. What incredible arrogance this board has shown in that respect.
For far too long in this village, decisions which should have been put to a referendum were usurped by the board, including the selling of the wells which now has us footing the bill for two new ones and possibly a water tower, and of course, adoption of a sewer system. While I personally would have voted in favor of sewers, a referendum would have stirred the debate necessary to better anticipate the outcomes of this decision. The Founding Fathers were right to provide for the referendum, wisely understanding that public officials left too much to their own devices would inevitably run amok.

V. Szerko,
Fleischmanns