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Harding: “We can no longer operate the system allowing new growth.”

Mayor Harding and the Yelm City Council have been put on-notice for over 5 years that the city’s “grow at all costs” policy was headed to be a train-wreck. This blog has an archive of three years of news stories giving the facts and highlighting the strains this area has endured with growth, water and lack thereof, along with a whole host of other issues, as well as a defiant Mayor and City Council calling anyone with a comment on these issues “anti-growth.”

In what certainly must be an embarrassing turn of events, Mayor Harding now has to whip city property owners with large water rate increases to pay for the city’s folly. In addition, he told local businesses at the Yelm Chamber Forum last week they must look for ways to conserve water. The city is at their maximum allowable water allocation as set by the State Dept. of Ecology.

From the local newspaper’s print edition of April 17th:
“Mayor Ron Harding addressed the local business community Tuesday [April 14] about the affects of proposed water rate increases during the monthly Chamber forum at the Nisqually Valley Moose Lodge.

The rates are part of a six-year comprehensive water system plan.

‘Its not something we want to do,’ Harding said. ‘Its something we have to do.’…

Rates are going to go up somewhat significantly, especially for large businesses, Harding said…

The average water bill for a single family home is $23 a month.

With the new projected rates, that bill will increase to $37 a month.

By 2015 the average residential customer is anticipated to pay $68 a month under the new plan. Rates are determined by meter and facility size….

Harding said he is encouraging businesses to start looking at ways to conserve water.

The city has taken the stance in recent years for growth to pay for growth, Harding said.
The city has taken on debt and allowed new growth to pay that debt.

That has changed with the economy, growth slowing and an anti-growth environment.

‘We can no longer operate the system allowing new growth,’ Harding said.”

Ed. Note:
HMMM! Now isn’t that singing a different tune to the Yelm Chamber members and community?

All of those commenting to the Mayor & City Council are NOT anti-growth, rather wanted the city to allow growth to be balanced with environmental preservation. They also wanted the city to follow the law. A lawsuit was required to get the city and state to wake-up to Yelm’s behavior.
The city has a lawsuit judgment against the way they have been approving preliminary plats without first proving water; a case they say they won, yet appealed. If the city won, then why did they appeal the decision? HMMM!
And, why has the city not followed their own Vision Plan, created from a task force of people like Glen Cunningham, Shelly Badger, John Thompson & Margaret Clapp?
[CLICK HERE to see an excerpt of my letter to Dept. of Ecology Director Jay Manning about Yelm’s water allocation issue.]

The city can no longer sustain the way they have been spending money the last several years with growth now stopped in its tracks. And unfortunately, they have not been up-front with the local businesses and property owners about the lack of water, debt and lack of future revenues from projected property taxes, until now, when they have their backs against a wall!
And, the local newspaper has given the city a “by” on this and other issues. Let’s see when the Fall election is near and more details emerge about the city’s malfeasance if the local newspaper editor/publisher still endorses the Mayor and Council to run again!

The city’s Water Mitigation Plan has yet to be approved, and citizens are taking action in their own right to demand action from Ecology about Yelm’s aim to severely increase pumping water here.
CLICK HERE for the citizens’ action letter.

Harding: “We can no longer operate the system allowing new growth.”
When he says this is about “the system”, he is referring to the water system.

The Mayor, City Council, Community Development Dept. and City Administrator have all been warned many times by a qualified professional engineer, a 25 year Dept. of Ecology water specialist, this former mayoral candidate and many other citizens that the direction of their leadership via growth could not be maintained and lacked a vision for a sustainable future. All have said the city would be left out of a “chair when the music stopped.”

That has now proven true and there will be a full-court press by city officials to lay on City of Yelm residents and businesses the costs of their hubris. The water rate hike and plea to the Yelm Chamber members for businesses to conserve water are just the beginning. Stay tuned!
Burying this decisive change in the city’s direction on the “Business” page instead of front page headlines indicates the local newspaper’s complicity in this, as well. The newspaper editor/publisher announced he moved out of the city, so will not be affected by what is coming down the pike. The city’s tax & water bill payers are about to pay for their past silence by soon getting a one-two punch in their wallets & gut.

Posted by Steve on April 20, 2009 at 5:01 am | Permalink

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