Northwest NEWS

September 23, 2002

Editorial

Credit cards are a country club option


   Residents in the Woodinville Water District recently received a letter regarding new, "easier" bill paying options.
   The letter fails to note that the new service which allows customers to pay by credit card, carries administrative costs and is adding to the cost of residential water for everyone in the district, whether they use this option of not.
   According to a district representative, the district is prohibited from passing this fee on to the users of this service, and so based on a very small expression of interest from respondents to a survey two years ago, the commission has decided to accept the unknown cost impact as an operating expense and thereby pass it along to all customers.
   As a district resident with a household budget to manage in the face of tremendous increases in utility costs over the last year, I object to the commissioners' decision to pass this "convenience cost" on to anyone who is not using the service.
   The broad use of credit cards to pay bills is substantially fueled by the associated accumulation of airline flier miles more than by convenience, and the convenience of a few is not, in my opinion, an adequate reason to increase the cost to a single customer who may be struggling to pay their monthly utility bills.
   There is no way to estimate or control how many customers will ultimately choose this option and how much the pass-on cost will grow.
   Keeping the cost of water as low as possible ought to be the commissioners' most important responsibility to those who elected them. Credit card convenience, in my opinion, is a "country club" option that is not appropriate when dispensing the basic necessities of life.
   The Water Commission holds a public hearing on the 2003 budget on Nov. 19. I urge residents to tell the commissioners that every increase matters and should be motivated only by the core objectives of the District:providing adequate, safe water at as low a cost as possible.
   Donna Brethauer, Woodinville