Water rate hike is a sneaky tax
So Rapid City government wants to raise the cost of water by 9 percent to 10 percent in 2018 and 8.5 percent per year from 2019 to 2022. Although, the numbers seem large on their face, they’re even larger when you compound the effect, as the city is proposing, resulting in a 52 percent rise in the cost by 2022.
I guess this is what happens when politicians want to raise taxes but are afraid to call a spade a spade. Instead it’s a water rate increase of more than 50 percent I estimate that revenues for water are currently approximately $28 million ($3.11/unit x 25 units x 12 x 31,000 housing units in Rapid City). The proposed raise in water rates will increase water department revenues to approximately $42 million or more by 2022. That’s essentially an average tax increase of $450 annually for every household in Rapid City.
And people are worried about the impact of a new Civic Center on their taxes. It seems that perhaps tax reform at the local level is as much needed as it is at the federal level. I’m afraid to know what it means to my pocketbook that “water reclamation rates would rise annually by similar percentages through 2022.”
Mining project a threat to water
All Rapid City residents should be concerned about the rise in the price they must pay for water. But a Canadian mining company called Mineral Mountain Resources is poised to get the same water for free.
The DENR and Forest Service are about to allow MMR to withdraw at least 1.8 million gallons from Rapid Creek and Castle Creek, in order to do exploratory drilling for gold. MMR has secured claims to drill on 5,500 acres in the Rochford/Castle Peak/Bloody Gulch area. Other problems with this drilling project are significant. Damage to roads and trails will be caused by movement of heavy equipment; water withdrawn from the creek may become contaminated with uranium and other heavy metals; wildlife habitat will be compromised. And without a doubt, area tourism will be affected. MMR appears financially shaky, and it has a history in Keystone of walking away from its financial commitment there and of possible pollution of Battle Creek.
This is a permit to steal water, a permit to degrade the environment, a permit to reduce tourism. It is not in the public interest, not in the interest of Rapid Citians who value their water.