Editorial: Payment will always come due

Mar. 08, 2014 @ 11:36 PM

If it is worth building, do it right from the start. The payoff is priceless.

Henderson customers, including those who wear the title taxpayers, should be the first to testify to the sage wisdom. We’ve seen the impact of kick the can approaches at the Henderson Water Reclamation Facility, where an $18 million overhaul project has begun. And we’re about to see the impact of a choice on coal ash disposal, which Duke Energy is going to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in cleanup and change.

In both cases, users are going to feel the effect.

The city’s project was incredibly long overdue. The facility was built nearly 80 years ago. It got major renovations in 1962, about 25 years into service, and again in 1982. Since then, as one city councilman said, it’s been “Band-Aids” to get by and avoid rate increases.

The city’s population has dropped 25 percent in the last 40 years. Translated, while we didn’t take steps to keep up and costs were rising, the number of people who would shoulder the payment with us has decreased.

The city got a tax rate increase last summer. And there are still a number of “fixing” items that didn’t make the budget. Another increase is possible.

As for Duke Energy, the spill of coal ash into the Dan River put a target on Duke’s 32 ash ponds at 14 power plants around the state. The nation’s largest electric utility didn’t become a behemoth through poor business decisions. So we’re not surprised its president and chief executive officer, Lynn Good, said Friday bills of 3.2 million customers in the state will help pay for closing the ponds.

Ultimately, the Utilities Commission of the state will share responsibility for how much Duke is allowed to charge us. We’re braced.

Today is the start of Ground Water Awareness Week, running through Saturday. It reminds us to be alert for how ground water, the primary source to public water systems in the country, is protected, helping ensure effect on our health and well-being.

When it comes to treatment plants, or energy facilities alongside our rivers, building it right and maintaining due diligence is paramount. It’s worth every penny. And it’s worth our time as watchmen.