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Opinion

Sewer vote ‘devastating’ for seniors, says reader

8/15/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Letter to the Editor

To the editor:

As a Norton resident who is on the verge of retirement, the revelation that Issue No. 1 failed to pass is devastating news. For anyone in this community who is living on a fixed income, an additional $20,000 to $30,000 financial burden will become next to impossible to maintain, let alone keep up with the everyday costs of getting older. Add to that the additional cost of having to pay for connecting to the new sewer, new property assessment taxes and around $170 a month for new sewer and water bills, and you will end up with the potential path to personal financial ruin. This is not my version of what retirement is supposed to look like.

A woman in her 80s, who lives on Greenwich Road, has already had to face this horrible reality. One day, many months ago, her city councilman came to her door with the letter informing her that, regardless of her financial circumstances, the sewer line in front of her property was coming online and she was going to have to pay all of the above costs. I don’t know how she finally dealt with this news, but at the time I met her, she felt that life was no longer worth living, knowing she was going to be living in a home she and her husband worked all their lives to pay for, knowing she would soon be living in abject poverty.

As with this elderly woman, how would you deal with this? Would you stop paying for your prescriptions or trips to the doctor so that you could muster enough together to pay your utility bill and the 20-year loan for a sewer you didn’t need? And what if a health crisis did arise, what then? How would you pay for all of these additional costs? And would your water get turned off because you could no longer afford to pay for your utilities? This is reality for her now and may soon become the same for many of us.

The bottom line about this issue is simple. It is all about compassion for the welfare of others. It is about understanding that our individual actions will indeed have a devastating impact on those in our community who are less well off. When it comes time to vote in November, stop and think about how your family is going to deal with this financial burden and the long-term impact it will have on their future.

Whatever you choose, you are going to have to live with the consequences for a very long time.

William Heustis, Norton

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