What’s fair?

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To the Editor:

I would like to respond to Oak Bluffs wastewater commissioner Robert Iadicicco’s letter in last week’s Times (“Fairness at work”). A little history: he said at town meeting once, “don’t ask me for a decent explanation” on why he was in favor of the town not paying half of its user fee. Again, he felt that the high water users should pay for the wastewater for the town buildings like the library, town hall, police station, etc., instead of it being equally spread out around the town. I also had a conversation with him once regarding my bill for the construction of the plant going from $20,000 to $46,000. I asked him if he thought that was fair and he told me, “I don’t know what fair is.”

According to his letter, “There were two guidelines at play: to generate enough fees to cover the budget, and to select a fair and reasonable minimum fee for the very small users, those who come for only one or two weeks per year.” The first part about covering the budget goes without saying. The second part shows a lack of thought for users on the other side of the spectrum. This formula has the high water user paying a rate of almost three times as much as the low water user. None of this is mentioned in his letter, showing a bias against the high water users.

This quote from the letter also caught my attention. “We felt that the $400 minimum was as high as we could go without being very unfair. As we calculated the effects of reducing the minimum usage allowance, or increasing the minimum fee, we found that the benefit to the large user was very small because there are so many of them, and the cost to the small user was very large.”  Who is “we?”  Nobody asked me if I wanted my rate to be lowered and I imagine none of the other high water users were asked either. When it comes to more than doubling my share for the plant construction and paying a rate of almost three times as much as other users, is that “very large?”

The Lagoon and Sengekontacket are town treasures. We need to reduce the nitrogen running into them in order to have healthy shellfish. The high water users have paid a disproportionate amount for the building of the plant and usage. Any expansion of the sewer should be paid for by the entire town, not just the few high water users.

Erik Albert

Oak Bluffs