Congressman Latta and Mayor Behm Push for Assistance with Water Infrastructure Projects
March 30, 2012
In response to numerous municipalities in the Fifth District facing costly water infrastructure projects, Congressman Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) invited Napoleon Mayor Ron Behm to testify before the House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Mayor Behm stressed to the subcommittee the importance of providing financial assistance to municipalities facing unfunded mandates from the federal government. In testimony before the subcommittee, Mayor Behm said:
"The City of Napoleon is paying the debt service for the projects by raising the sewer and water rates. These increases have been added every year, but one, since 2003 have doubled the water and sewer bill for our residents and businesses.
"If the City of Napoleon begins to lose residents and businesses we will find ourselves in deeper trouble, because our rates and the ability to pay off our debt is calculated based on an estimate of usage.
"The bottom line is that we simply can't continue to proceed down this road, a road we have chose to go down rather than pay fines imposed by the EPA. The City of Napoleon has never argued with what the EPA is attempting to achieve; we have, however, argued about how we get there and how it will be paid for."
"I think unelected bureaucrats need to understand the burden a 20-year timeline puts on local governments, businesses and families," said Latta. "I'm grateful subcommittee Chairman Bob Gibbs (R-OH) invited Mayor Behm to explain to our colleagues the difficulties people back home are facing. I will continue to work with the committee to come up with a solution that will address the problems the City of Napoleon and many others face."
Congressman Bob Latta has proposed legislation, the Clean Water Affordability Act, H.R. 1189, which would assist municipalities in financing wastewater projects by extending the repayment loan period to 30 years or the design life of the project. In addition, it specifies that states must establish affordability criteria to assist those municipalities that would experience significant hardship raising revenue for projects.