Tonight's Council meeting was one of the most open meetings I have seen in Dowagiac for many years. The city should be proud for allowing residents to have dialogue at the meeting.
Residents should be proud of Mr. Burling, Ms. Hunt and Mr. Oliver for requesting changes to the electric deposit policy prior to the next meeting.
During the meeting, Mr. Laylin said that it may be possible that if this deposit doesn't pass, the utility rates may have to be doubled to cover costs. This is one of the most inaccurate comments I have ever heard. According to the City, this would only affect about 20 residents, which is a very low estimate. For Mr. Laylin to attempt to scare residents to accept this unfair policy, as it stand now, by saying rates would be doubled, is nothing more than a scare tactic and totally incorrect. Residents deserve to have somebody run the meeting who has correct and accurate information, not someone who makes up figures in the middle of the meeting that are not correct.
The explanation given for this increase was so confusing that a person in attendance had to interrupt Council a couple of times to try to figure out what was being presented.
Here is an odd fact about the new deposit: If you only have electric, your deposit will be $225.00. If you only have water, the deposit is $80.00, but if you have both, the deposit will be $500.00. The numbers just don't add up, of course. It would be better to go in and have the electric put in your name, then go back and have the water put in your name later for a deposit of $80.00. If you could do it this way you could save almost $200.00.
At the end of the meeting, during councilmans' comments, Mr. Dodd asked when the deposits would be returned. He was told they'd be returned when the customer moves and their bill is paid in full. What I can't understand is why the question was even asked. Each councilman is given a Friday packet with all the information needed to vote on each week's agenda items. Why would a councilman ask that question if they read the information in their packet? The answer was clearly stated in their paperwork.
The most disturbing event happened after the meeting when Mr, Laylin asked me if I thought I was being represented well by my councilman. I asked him why did he think that was an issue. Mr. Laylin stated that one of my councilpersons (Lori Hunt) seems to miss a lot of meetings. I told Mr. Laylin that I was well represented tonight by Ms. Hunt. Why would the Acting Mayor ask a resident if they are happy with their councilperson, and say that they seem to miss a lot of meetings?
All of the residents of the first ward should be proud of Ms. Hunt tonight for asking for changes to be made in the utility deposit prior to voting for it.
I feel that it was very unprofessional for a councilman to ask a resident if they feel they are being represented well and bring up the subject of Ms. Hunt missing meetings. Ms. Hunt is taking classes full time and raising a family, and I am sure there are times that she cannot attend.
If Mr. Laylin seems to think that Ms. Hunt is missing too many meetings, that is something that should be discussed between the Council and Ms. Hunt, instead the subject was brought up to a resident and in front of residents that attended the meeting.
Once again thank you to the the councilmembers who took a stand and requested changes in this deposit issue instead of just voting it in at the next meeting. Be sure to thank Ms. Hunt, Mr. Burling and Mr. Oliver.