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Hello, today I want to tell you abot Community Sustainability.

Mark Marcoplos makes two important points on OrangePolitics. "The fundamental issue to me is that the community should have a realistic understanding of the truth about how sustainable we are as a community" and "We certainly should reward baby steps toward sustainability."

While I value the environmental leadership shown by Mark and others, sustainability is not about environmental issues alone. We've made great strides forward in environmental protections thanks to our many local activists, but we've done so at the cost of economic and social sustainability. Two excellent articles by the local press last weekend highlight my concerns about how, we as a community, are approaching sustainability: OWASA, Town Weigh Water Issues and Mark Peters on school budgets. How much is OWASA service going up this year? Yes, I know--higher rates will reduce demand and promote conservation. And the inverted block pricing structure will make some attempt to accommodate low income households. But the capital improvement budget for expanding the wastewater treatment plant to meet unconstrained population growth should not be ignored. Smart growth is protecting open space, but by concentrating growth inside the OWASA service area it’s adding to the inflationary cost of living here. I support the concept of the rural buffer, but I also believe that all theories should be monitored to assure that they are accomplishing the intended goal. In this case, we may be protecting our farmland and open space at the expense of the affordability of our urban spaces. What expense is acceptable and when do we need to rethink the approach, if not the theory? Where is the data needed for lawmakers and the public to assess the continued efficacy of the rural buffer?

As for the schools, the current growth rates in this community are simply outpacing the funding mechanisms. Passing infrastructure charges off on developers raises the cost of housing; we all know developers are not going to take the financial hit inherent in current land use policies--despite the honorable intent of those policies. If we were funding all infrastructure, such as schools and other government services, on the same cost of service principle used by OWASA, the tax rate would be enormous but at least it would be more visible than it has been over the past many years.