Utility Prices and the Rocky Mount Budget: AKA Using a Band-Aid to Stop A Bleed

The Rocky Mount Telegram quoted me today saying the following:

George Fisher, who was previously a member of a group of residents who were fighting for lower electric rates called “Citizens for Fair Utilities,” said he would like the city to do a complete, line-by-line evaluation of what would happen to the city budget and services if the transfer of utility revenues was halted or scaled back.

“I’d like to see everything as transparent as possible. Post it on the city website,” he said.

That quote is completely accurate. But, I told John a lot more: all of which I’ll tell you here.


Let’s start with the Rocky Mount City Council. –I’ve talked with just about everyone, at one time or another, on the city council about the high cost of utilities in Rocky Mount. I don’t think there is a single member of this council that wouldn’t like to see utility rates go down.  They get calls and emails all the time relating hardships .  On the flip side, they get calls and emails telling them that property taxes are too high, Rocky Mount shouldn’t be making a profit on anything, cut the budget to the bare bone, etc.

But here’s the real deal and no matter how you look at the situation you can’t get around it. This City Council, as with all city councils, has what is call a “felt” responsibility.  A felt responsibility (in this situation) is feeling the pressure of knowing that you, and you along, have the duty and the burden of casting votes that will directly determine the welfare, livelihoods, and outcomes of others. 

It’s kind of awesome when you think about it that way. Especially when you know that the Council is pulled in every direction by every self interest group in town.  Public and Private.

Most, I’d say 99.5%, of the give and take never makes the headline news in the Telegram. You won’t see it on TV and probably not hear about it on  the radio.  What you do see and hear are the negatives: from Telegram comments to radio & TV bashing, it’s become a cottage industry.  But, the people making those comments and doing that bashing don’t have the responsibility of having to deal with the ramifications of being wrong. And, we all know hindsight is 20/20.


So, what do you do?  My suggestion is put the whole City budget out there on the web. People here are smart, they CAN rap their head around it. Put all of it out there; line by line.  Let the City do a “what If” analysis on various situations. But, let’s determine what the outcomes would be not just now but 5,10 and 15 years into the future.  Why? Because that’s what this  Council has to do.  They have the felt responsibility to do so many things…keep people safe, develop economic growth, promote Rocky Mount, etc. But, they have to do it knowing if they fail an “I’m sorry” isn’t good enough. 


About George Fisher

George is a freelance writer, an author and a Democratic political consultant. He has worked as Deputy Communications Director for a Senatorial campaign and Campaign Manager for several NC House races and one congressional race. He previously worked as a news producer for a local television station.
This entry was posted in Media, Oak Level, Rocky Mount City Council, Rocky Mount Telegram, WNCR TV and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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