Times must be flush at the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority (RWSA).
At their June 22, 2010 board meeting, the embattled authority (infamously known for raising water and sewer rates to compensate for conservation–related revenue shortfalls) quietly pumped $5,000 of ratepayer money into the caissons of a political ally—the Rivanna Conservation Society (RCS).
RCS, a private, left-leaning advocacy group, requested the funding in a May 25 cover letter to RWSA, entitled: Project Proposal Scenic River 40th Anniversary Celebration
Albemarle County and Charlottesville City ratepayers, already inundated from ballooning water and sewer rates, now will be forced to subsidize RCS and their “partners’” frivolous celebration, termed by the society as a “comprehensive patchwork of activities and events….”
In a June 22 memorandum to RWSA’s board, (reviewed by Executive Director, Tom Frederick) RWSA Water Resources Manager, Tamara Ambler, seeks support for the splashy request:
Board Action Requested:
The provision of financial support for activities associated with the “Year of the Rivanna: The Commemoration of the 40th Anniversary of Virginia’s Scenic Rivers Program” is at the Board’s discretion.
Adding insult to ratepayer financial injury, the memo specifies proposed uses of the requested gift:
- Brochure printing
- Underwriting costs of a “media campaign”
- Event development
So, why would a financially strapped, purportedly non-partisan quasi-governmental “authority” float $5,000 in hard-earned ratepayer resources to a local liberal activist association?
Would it be, perhaps, quid pro quo for RCS’ support of the controversial Community Water Supply Plan in 2005?
While the first may be easy to answer, additional questions remain:
- What other advocacy groups now will be granted gifts of ratepayer monies?
- Has precedent been established by the RWSA board’s reckless abandon in support of a “friendly” organization?
Ultimately, RWSA’s financial floodgates must be closed; and the RWSA board must curtail its craving to imbibe the headiness of publicly endowed philanthropy. While $5,000 may seem like a “drop in the bucket” to Director Frederick and his altruistic board, ratepayers certainly must feel “hosed.”
About the Author: Rob Schilling is founder of The Schilling Show Blog and News; host of WINA's The Schilling Show, heard weekdays from noon to 2 PM; husband; father; and community watchdog.