Around Edmond OP ED: Edmond Government Should Represent And Consider Everyone, Regardless of Financial Status

Edmond Government Should Represent And Consider Everyone, Regardless of Financial Status

According to the US Census’ most recent demographic data, over 94,000 people live in Edmond. The median per-capita income level is $41,628. The median household income is $76,008. Ten percent of Edmond residents live at or below the poverty line. Many more live right on the edge, precariously balancing on a razor wire between financial stability and ruination. So why is Mayor Dan O’Neil telling single parents that a $200 increase on their water bill shouldn’t be a “major issue?”

An unexpected $200 charge – or more – for a utility can be the difference between paying and not paying rent on time. It can mean forgoing groceries until the next paycheck. It can mean missing a car payment. It can mean putting off a necessary doctor’s visit for yet another month. And this is for people who live just above the poverty line.

For those sitting right at or below that line, $200 more a month can mean eviction. It can mean repossession. It can mean termination of employment.

Not only is the water bill increase harmful to residents, it’s absurd on its face. 2019 has been an uncharacteristically wet year — the third-wettest on record. According to the US Drought Monitor, the majority of Oklahoma — including Edmond — is definitively not in the midst of a drought. It wasn’t until early June that Lake Arcadia’s water levels lowered enough to safely boat and swim in it. Telling us that the reason our bills have increased is because we’re all watering our lawns is ridiculous. You can’t charge for services God rendered, Mayor O’Neil.

For better or worse, Edmond has a reputation as a “rich” town. Our schools have top of the line facilities. We can easily attract high-end shopping boutiques. We can afford a bowling alley-movie theater combo on the outskirts of town. But the truth of the matter is and always has been: not everyone in this city lives north of Danforth, in gated communities. And it behooves our city government to remember, recognize and respect that.

To be clear, this isn’t about politics. This isn’t about left vs. right. This isn’t about people not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps — it’s about a city that’s appearing to be cutting people’s bootstraps as they’re pulling and then blaming them for falling over.

The City needs to take valid citizen concern about unnoticed increases in the cost of water seriously.

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Trevor Hultner is an Oklahoma City writer.

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