Surplus city funds but raising fees?

To the editor:

Tuesday's article about the raising of sewer rates in the city is a little befuddling. If I remember correctly, barely two months or so ago, the city was patting themselves on the back about having an extra $400-and-some thousand and were seeking submissions/suggestions on what to do with this extra money. And now they want to raise our rates on sewer and a whole other host of fees.

I do applaud the council for looking at smaller rate hikes (9.8 percent versus the almost 110 percent hike from September 2001 to July 2003) and am all for efficiency in government. But I am against raising rates for the sake of raising them (kind of like gasoline and the oil industry). One of the justifications for raising the rates back in '01-'03 was we are the lowest in the area, rates for the same services are more in Pendleton, La Grande, Ontario, etc.

Are we as taxpayers, getting any more service/value out of these increases? Is it actually costing the city more to collect our sewer fees than it did in the last three years? Does it actually cost more in Baker City to collect sewage or pump/treat water than it does in Pendleton or La Grande? Try stating what is causing the increase (increased benefit costs, increased electricity costs, etc.), not just andquot;we haven't raised this rate for three years nowandquot; or andquot;this is what the rates are in Ontario or Hermiston.andquot; Explain why you have (not andquot;mightandquot; or andquot;possiblyandquot; need) to raise rates. Explain this andquot;single resolutionandquot; to evaluate/raise fees every year. Is this based on the actual costs of the services or is this a general andquot;across-the-boardandquot; approach?

Don't show me excess money in one hand and then reach in my back pocket for more with the other!

Doug Evans

Baker City

Expand symphony to rural schools, too

To the editor:

Bravo! The fact that the Oregon Symphony played a concert in Baker City is huge! What a thrilling experience for all who attended! The program was carefully chosen for public appeal. The orchestra gave a magnificent performance in a high school gymnasium where the reverberations were largely overcome by the brilliance of the conductor and the presence of approximately 1,400 bodies soaking up excess sound.

Every instrument was clear as a bell. I was totally consumed with enjoying the music and the experience.

The whole weekend was a celebration of the Oregon Symphony's two year Community Music Partnership with the Baker School District 5J, Baker Community Concert Association, and Crossroads Art Center.

Congratulations to the many people responsible for making all details run smoothly. It was a gigantic effort. Baker City can be proud of achieving its goal so brilliantly.

It is unclear whether the Education Department of the Oregon Symphony fully achieved its goal for this first year. According to the initial publicity given the Partnership, it seemed that the Symphony's goal is to reach schools of the more rural areas of the State with a sustainable music education program. If that is true, it is unfortunate that the classroom activities in Baker County were limited to those of Baker City's 5J District. Even though initiated by 5J music teachers, perhaps the plan for next year might be improved upon to include the rural school districts of Baker County where opportunities for such learning experiences are rare. That would be a really generous thing to do, and would seem to more closely meet the goals of the Education Department of the Oregon Symphony. Music is good for all souls!

Mardelle Ebell

Baker City