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Youngstown should find other ways to fund sewer work

DEAR EDITOR:

Most of my neighbors, friends and family who live in the city of Youngstown fully understand and support the need to improve our sewer infrastructure to benefit our community and

environment.

But why must the financial burden be placed on the shoulders of an already economically distressed population?

Most people are fully aware of the macroeconomic and microeconomic injustices involved with this issue, including massive tax cuts on the wealthy and powerful.

They have resulted in record profits for corporations, while increasing the federal deficit and leaving little or no federal money for needs of communities like Youngstown. Yet the same federal government continues to insist citizens pay for this U.S. Environmental Protectiopn Agency-mandated sewer improvement project.

It is impossible for a population of approximately 60,000 people to rebuild an infrastructure originally structured for a city with triple the population without further impoverishing them.

The state of Ohio has at least $2 billion in its “rainy day” fund, yet the state will not grant or lend necessary money for these improvements until our rates increase.

We’re aware our city government has granted large tax abatements to many local businesses, including the very downtown businesses given millions in wastewater fund monies for “economic development.”

Also, many Youngstown residents now are experiencing and concerned about our water quality and safety.

The question becomes: Why can’t our local officials tell state and federal governments they cannot “take blood from a stone?” Many citizens barely survive above poverty level, and a growing number of sick and elderly are on fixed incomes and cannot shoulder the burden of this demand!

This is economic injustice at its worst.

Why not require downtown businesses to shoulder the greatest financial burden — the very businesses that benefited from the public trough?

A solution to lessening the burden on average citizens would be for the city to place a small surcharge on every transaction, every drink sold or meal ordered, every concert ticket, room booked, on all the businesses granted the public’s money in the first place.

They need to pay more for the infrastructure improvements than the average citizen. Ten cents a drink or 20 cents per meal won’t bankrupt these businesses. One dollar a room, or $1 a ticket isn’t going to stop people from supporting the downtown economic revival.

It could lessen the burden for average citizens, while going a long way towards giving us the sense of a just, fair solution where, right now, none exists.

Remember the phrase “Defend Youngstown?” Now is the chance to live up to that motto.

GEORGE ELIAS

Youngstow

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