Writer opposes countywide sewer service

Posted 3/24/19

To The Editor:My name is Art Trewhitt, and I am a co-founder of the Bradley County Taxpayer Protection Organization. Our organization was founded a few years ago as a response to the use of taxpayer …

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Writer opposes countywide sewer service

Posted

To The Editor:

My name is Art Trewhitt, and I am a co-founder of the Bradley County Taxpayer Protection Organization.

Our organization was founded a few years ago as a response to the use of taxpayer money to fund special-interest projects that have been going on in Bradley County for decades.

The main event that led to our formation was the anger expressed by some citizens about the use of millions of taxpayer dollars to construct the Spring Branch Industrial Park against the will of the taxpayers of Bradley County, which we consider to be an act of corporate welfare. We are also appalled by the fact that the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce has decided to search for land for another taxpayer-funded industrial facility, which I can guarantee we will fight.

We do not believe that spending other people’s money is the proper way to create jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the city of Cleveland already has the fifth-largest industrial economy in the state, and it would be extremely difficult to argue that we do not have enough. Clearly, these projects are to benefit a special interest.

But, I would like to focus on another proposed project in which there is overwhelming evidence that its purpose is also to benefit a special interest, and that is the proposal to create a countywide sewer system. As has been mentioned before, there is overwhelming evidence that the purpose of this extraordinary proposal is to benefit the developers by opening up rural parts of Bradley County to subdivision developments, and we have already started a movement to stop this.

I am not going to discuss  here all the information about how we know all of this. It is listed on our Facebook page, “Save Rural Bradley County” (facebook.com/nobradleysewers).

But, I would like to once again raise concerns about the costs. As has been mentioned before, the cost would most likely end up being more expensive than initially projected, like most government programs. The cost to tap into sewer systems is usually a few thousand dollars, which many residents of rural Bradley County cannot afford.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that utility companies can charge people who have access to their services, but are not customers, which means that people who have access to sewer, but are not connected and use septic tanks instead, would be charged as if they were a customer.

Also, the appraised value of properties would most likely increase as soon as they receive access to sewer, which would all of a sudden mean higher property taxes. The cost of such a massive project would fall on all of the taxpayers of Bradley County, but the burden would fall disproportionately on the poor, many of whom spend a significant portion of their income on utility bills.

Also, this proposal is an assault on the residents of rural Bradley County who happen to be the majority of our constituents, and are some of the most under-represented citizens of our county.

There are many of them, myself included, who want Bradley County to remain predominantly rural and agricultural, and we feel the Bradley County Commission has largely ignored our desires and put the desires of the powerful special interests first, something that is very prevalent in this country.

For these reasons, we wish to protect the residents of rural Bradley County, not just from unnecessary tax burdens, but from tax burdens that go to pay for a personal agenda that they do not support.

We ask for the Bradley County Commission to equally represent all of the people of Bradley County, not just the powerful and wealthy, and oppose this radical proposal.     

— Art Trewhitt
Cleveland

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