I recently read that Asheville city council is gearing up for another rate increase for water customers in the region (“Asheville considering water rate increases,” March 25, 2014). But some water customers don’t live in Asheville. Roughly half of these regional water system customers live in Buncombe County, outside the city. And yet, it is seven people sitting on city council who are in charge of water system policy for the region and they alone are making important decisions which will affect many people who are not their constituents.
If customers outside the city were to have input regarding unreasonable rates, poor service or quality, or matters of future development, where would they turn? They are without representation on Asheville’s city council and could not express their point of view by voting in city elections.
To ensure accountability to all water system ratepayers, we need broader representation by a locally-appointed board in a regional authority. It is long past time that these disenfranchised customers outside the city were given a seat at the table and a sure way to voice their concerns to their appointed representative.