I may be sorry I wrote this column.
Any time I write a piece that might be perceived as negative to Irondale, I’m attacked by unhappy Irondale citizens. (I respect their pride and loyalty)
However, in this particular case, I don’t know if Irondale is the devil or an angel.
We are in the midst of one of the worst droughts in our state’s history.
Our Birmingham Water Works has announced surcharges of up to 400% with an ominous warning of more punishing penalties to come.
In response the Irondale City Council unanimously approved an agreement for its water system to sell up to 1 million gallons of water a day to our Birmingham Water Works at double the price Irondale Water charges its customers.
Irondale Mayor Tommy Joe Alexander told his city council, “That means if we can furnish them a million [gallons], that’s between $10,000 and $15,000 a day for the city of Irondale.”
The ‘them’ they are talking about are you and me unless you are lucky enough to live in Irondale and reap the financial gain.
I don’t quite know how to feel about this.
As a resident of Vestavia Hills who gets my water from the Birmingham Water Works, should I thank or resent Irondale?
What if we were hungry and desperate for food rather than water and Irondale restaurants colluded to charge outside folks twice as much as Irondale residents?
Or what if the drought lingered and Irondale charged us five or ten times the going rate? Is two times okay, but five times not?
I’m pretty sure it’s against the law for private companies to price gouge during times of critical shortages. Is it okay for governments?
But what is Irondale to do?
The City of Birmingham stole Walmart from Irondale by offering $11 million in incentives.
Then Trinity Hospital agreed to relocate to Irondale, but after Irondale paid for site preparation, the City of Birmingham retained them with a $55 million package.
There’s no doubt Irondale is doing the right thing for its citizens.
And we’re probably lucky to have Irondale willing to share its water.
I’m not blaming Irondale for acting responsibly.
I am blaming our multiple competing governments who have created this ‘every man for himself’ culture in order to survive.
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David Sher is Co-Founder of AmSher Compassionate Collections. He’s past Chairman of the Birmingham Regional Chamber of Commerce (BBA), Operation New Birmingham (REV Birmingham), and the City Action Partnership (CAP).
Invite David to speak to your group about a better Birmingham. firstname.lastname@example.org