THE MALDEN ADVOCATE–Friday, May 3, 2019 ~ Op-Ed ~ Page 13 Matheson misleading voters T hose that know my style as Mayor know that I prefer to stay positive and look forward. However, when someone goes to great lengths to mislead the residents of Malden for the benefi t of a few votes, the record must be set straight. First, the facts of the aging nature of our water distribution are real. We have over 126 miles of water mains, with over 30 miles of it over 100 years old, and another 20 miles being over 75 years old. We have thousands of lead service lines. To just address the pipes over 100 years old would cost over $100 million in today’s dollars. These issues weren’t created while I was Mayor, but I have two choices. I can ignore the problem with the full knowledge that the system won’t likely fail in a catastrophic way while I’m Mayor. Kick the can down the road if you will. Or I can accept that we have a great responsibility to future generations to continue to address this issue, balancing costs with the importance of clean and safe drinking water. I’ve chosen the latter. I wish I could tell you that this problem could be addressed without any fi nancial impact, but I’d be lying to you. I won’t do that. Several years ago, we began building what we call ‘reserves’ in our water/sewer enterprise fund. Reserves are meant to both stabilize rates during periods of high fl uctuations and provide capital for investment in our infrastructure on a ‘pay as you go’ basis. It’s not only appropriate but it’s smart. Being keenly aware of the continued task ahead of us, the intent was to combine reserves raised from current and past ratepayers with bond proceeds, which are paid back from future ratepayers, to fund continued improvements in our water infrastructure in a fair and balanced way. These are all part of the rate setting discussions that happen annually. Rates are voted on annually by the Public Works Commission at a public meeting. Councillor Matheson has skipped every one of these meetings. In fact, Matheson has paid little attention to our water infrastructure needs until he decided to run for Mayor and needed something to campaign on. To label this prudent approach an unfair tax on ratepayers that should be returned is to show a lack of knowledge of the basic fi nancial principles of operating a water/sewer infrastructure. It is of course a good headline, but still a shameful misrepresentation. There is no question that the cost of water has become a strain for many. I’m keenly aware of this fact and it weighs heavily on me as we consider making investments in our infrastructure. I wish we could go back 75 years and begin putting away funds for this. The annual MWRA rate study shows how we compare to surrounding communities in water billing for what they consider a ‘typical’ household. It makes clear that Councillor Matheson’s contention that we are treating our residents unfairly as compared to surrounding communities is just another empty campaign headline. The political season is upon us, and with that will come the usual posturing. But water quality is too important to use it as a tool to garner votes. I plan on being around this City for the rest of my life. Councillor Matheson has advocated for a ‘do nothing’ approach that is indicative of someone who is interested in being Mayor for reasons other than this city’s future. Investing in the future isn’t glamorous. We don’t have a ribbon cutting when we replace a water main or a lead line. But as long as I’m Mayor, I’ll continue to make those hard decisions. I won’t try to buy your vote by promising something that’s not real or by selling out future generations. WE WORK FOR YOU! * Have your car repaired by     * An I-CAR GOLD CLASS SHOP              for                                 1605 North Shore Road, Revere * 781-284-1200 Visit us at: www.AtlasAutobody.com or call (781) 284-1200 to schedule your appointment today!

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