Where Does the Buck Stop?

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No finger pointing. No alibis. No excuses. Members of the Meridian City Council told their constituents Monday night they themselves caused the proposed water sewer rate increase.

Ward 2 Councilwoman Mary Perry said in recent years, rates were kept unrealistically low in an effort to benefit senior citizens.

"Every time we look at something, we try to figure out how can we save those who will be hurt the most. And that's what we've been doing, trying to do, but we don't see any way out of this," Perry said.

Council member Barbara Henson, who represents Ward 3, also said she was trying to protect senior citizens and the poor.

"It's payday Sunday. The reason it's happened now is we didn't pay up when we should have paid up," said Henson.

But it was Ward 1 councilman Dr. George Thomas who was the most candid of all.

"I've been part of a council that has put off infrastructure repairs in order to keep costs down," Thomas said. "Time and time, the streets you drive on. We went for years of not putting money into the streets and got to the point they got so bad we had to sell bonds to fix them which is not the proper way to do because you're expecting people in the future to pay for something that's going to wear out. Just plain and simple, we made some, I have made some major errors in that."

Then Thomas faced the water and sewer fund problem.

"The water fund has been operating at a deficit. We're at the point now that it has to be corrected," said Thomas. "It's sort of frightening to think that we have raw sewage running underground in the city of Meridian, in pipes 100 years old. We've not done a good job in yearly repairs for the infrastructure and I'm part of that."