Buckeye water customers still drowning in debt

by Jeff Hancock

Buckeye Residents Against High Water Bills organizer

We are tired of getting hosed with outrageous water bills aren’t you? Many residents of Buckeye have been looking for answers. All we get is horrible customer service and blanket excuses as to why our bills have mysteriously been so high. There have been many different attempts to find solutions — appeals to the Attorney General’s office, letters to the governor, letters to the county supervisors, even a petition to the corporation commission. After all of this, we find out there is no regulatory entity that oversees municipal utilities. In another attempt to finally get our situation resolved, “Buckeye Residents Against High Water Bills” have come together to recall the mayor. Here are a few reasons why we are petitioning to recall Mayor Jackie Meck and why we believe this is the right step to getting these water issues resolved.

The first issue is that as chief executive officer of the city, he lacks the leadership skills to run the city. Through the years of Meck’s tenure, it has seemed to most that he has been giving an adequate performance of his position that is until he was confronted with a large problem such as these water bill spikes and errors. He claims he did not know that these errors had been happening. However, on Sept. 9, 2005, the West Valley View published an article about high water bills. Meck is pictured holding up a water bill for $79,000. This shows that he knew about the water problems 12 years ago! This is a case of total dereliction of his duties as mayor.

Second, the water rates were increased under his direction as chairperson of the council. The reason given was that all water users must pay for the costs of maintaining the water system, which included the purchase of Global Water. When in business, you don’t expand until you have the money to expand. The city purchased Global Water and passed the expense to the residents. They passed their bad planning expenses on to the consumer, which is us.

Third, residents are receiving outrageously high water bills. This has been true in the past and still continues to happen today. When asked about these bills, the mayor still has not been able to find out the source of the problem or come up with a solution. The issue is mysteriously resolved without explanation. His only solution is to give a “one time credit” and spend even more money changing out water meters. He does not explain why it happened or prevent it happening again in the future since it is still unknown if the water meters are the actual problem. Many water meters have been tested and are functioning properly. Why spend $1,000,000 changing out water meters, when that has not proven to be the problem? Spending more money is not the answer since that is the reason for the rate hikes in the first place. We are unsure of his motive as to why he cannot find explanations for these spikes in water bills or has not investigated the issue further, but he has had ample time to figure out and fix the problem and is either unable or unwilling to do so. It is time for that to change.

We agree with former City Councilman Brian McAchran’s statement that “The Buckeye City Council is polarized by petty politics and there is no leadership at the city management level. This dysfunction permeates through the employees of Buckeye and is seen as poor customer service by the city’s customers.” Although Meck claims he loves to be in contact with all of the residents of Buckeye and talking directly with constituents, when he does talk directly to the residents, all we get are indirect answers and no real solutions to the issues we face. During this past election, the mayor stated, “The second issue is water … We still have work to do to keep water rates low, but I am confident that we can solve these challenges.” Mr. Mayor, you have had your chance, many years in fact, to solve these challenges. Now we want someone else. With a recall, we will be able to vote into office a mayor who is willing to revisit the rate increases and won’t make purchases that come at the expense of the consumer. By recalling Jackie Meck, we will be able to elect a mayor who is willing to find the problem and fix it once and for all. We are asking all buckeye residents to come out to the meeting we will be hosting at noon Feb. 11 at the Buckeye Aquatics Center, 207 N. Ninth St. Buckeye. We will have petitions for everyone to sign.

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