It’s nice to help ‘move the needle’

A TPO column helps an Ohio water and sewer department push a necessary rate increase through the city council

This was one of those times that make a magazine staff proud. I share the story here not to blow TPO’s horn but in hopes you might be helped in a similar way.

Russ Davis is superintendent of the department of water and wastewater in Dresden, Ohio, a community of about 1,600 east of Columbus. As the new year arrived, his department needed a water and sewer rate increase – he was proposing 6 percent.

Davis had worked hard to make the case for the increase to his city council. Somewhere along the way he encountered a column in the January edition of TPO, titled “We Can’t Afford What?” The column described a study by the Black & Veatch consulting firm showing that many municipal officials doubted their ability to win approval for funding to support water and wastewater infrastructure.

 The column explained why investment in infrastructure isn’t optional – it simply has to be made, or public health and quality of life are put at risk.

 Before the council meeting at which the proposed rate increase was to have its third reading and an up-or-down vote, “I copied it and gave it to my mayor and council members to persuade them of the importance of keeping our rate structure in line with the cost of future projects,” Davis reports.

“After the Mayor held up the article, and the council members had read it, the mayor stated that was the reason we needed to plan ahead. After a vote of the rank and file, the 6 percent rate increase was passed unanimously,” he says.

Davis was the second water and sewer official we know of who has used this article to help raise awareness of the importance of funding infrastructure adequately. A few weeks ago, an official from Texas (whose name and city I can’t remember) called asking permission to copy the column and distribute it to his board of commissioners as part of his ongoing effort to build support for investment.

 Might this article help you?  You can find it at Please feel free to bring it to the attention of your local decision-makers if you think it will help you build support for your initiatives.


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