Tropea Resigns from RSWA/RWSA

Larry Tropea, the executive director of the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority and the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority for the past 18 months, has resigned. His attorney cited a lack of support for Tropea on the part of the RWSA/RSWA boards for his resignation. This comes shortly after a sharp hike in water rates, a few months after the effective closing of the Ivy Landfill, and after last fall’s summer and fall drought, a crisis which made Tropea well-known. The organizations are left attempting to provide ongoing solutions to inevitible future water shortages, facing unpopularity due to increased water rates, and funding the entire system without the income that the Ivy Landfill once generated. David Dadurka has the story in today’s Progress.

17 thoughts on “Tropea Resigns from RSWA/RWSA”

  1. The gist that I am getting from all of the stories that have come out on this is that the big reason he resigned is because the city and county can’t get their act together and make decisive, agreeable action plans about the future of the area’s water supply. They just want to dicker and play stupid games, carp and complain, and stall until one side gets its way. That’s not the way to conduct business. The city and county should have empowered Tropea more to do his job, and if they don’t let up on the reigns next time, we’ll see another good manager leave in disgust.

    Bottom line: The city and county need to quit dragging their asses and make decisions.

    And to the city councilors: Quit dickering around with the water rates, too. It makes you look incompetent.

  2. If there services for which citizens should be charged the real rate for — that is, municipalities ought not subsidize any of the cost of them — it’s water and waste. Water is a far more precious commodity than most people appreciate. The city and the county ought to charge them what it costs them to acquire it, and no less. The same goes for waste disposal. People don’t understand how extremely difficult that it’s becoming — globally — to find places to dispose of waste. There’s simply not enough space. I want people to be charged the real cost for municipalities to dispose of their waste.

    Each of these things will encourage conservation and lead to pressure on the part of citizens for more responsible behavior on the part of themselves, their friends and neighrbords, manufacturers of goods, and even municipalities.

  3. Not directly to the point but it seems whenever local government or authority has a problem which appears to indicate incompetence or mismanagement by them and an excuse is needed to delay or hide from the "shining of the light of public scrutiny on the problem" they resort to the cry of "personnel action" (added insult to the public is they many times can`t differentiate between "personal" and " personnel "problems – (ignorance ??).

    I believe in some cases this occurs because the authority is not familar with the guidelines so they "play it safe" and release nothing rather than determine exactly what can be said. Akin to the government "classifying everything and releasing nothing" instead of doing their homework.

    Surely there are guidelines against release of certain information regarding personnel actions; however, to hide behind this lame excuse when there is no validity is an example of the ignorance of the guidelines or a calculated delay tactic.

  4. I don’t agree. You could extend that logic to all things “important” or “precious”. How about charging people *directly* for the real cost of our military and its global “peace keeping operations”. When Bush sends the troops, everyone should send in an extra $300 for every month they’re away from the bases. The real costs of cars and trucks are HUGELY greater than the measly 4% sales tax upon purchase. There’s road maintenance and expansion, infrastructures and financing expenses. Etc.

    I’ll be very clear about this: the choices a society makes about what services and provisions are pooled for the greater good and which are charged on a direct-to-cost basis reflect directly on what that society stands for. I am not advocating communism or socialism, but there’s much more to this debate than meets the eye. In fact, this issue is at the very core of America’s developing implosion. There’s a complete misunderstanding of American capitalism and its history; therefore, there’s a total breakdown of leadership and vision. I guess this is all just bla bla bla to y’all, so SHUT UP Symp!

    But let me just say this: charging the "real rate" for trash disposal and such will only encourage the continued breakdown of good citizenry. That’s what’s going to happen. You may not be able to discern this in the next 12 months, but over time, it’ll work its wonders. Then, people will be asking [stupidly], “what happened?”

  5. You could extend that logic to all things “important” or “precious”. How about charging people *directly* for the real cost of our military and its global “peace keeping operations”.

    It’s not solely because these resources are important or precious. It’s because every single citizen is capable in ways large and small of limiting the degree to which they use garbage services and water. This was obvious during the drought, when the use of water dropped markedly. There is no analogy to be made to the military or other such services.

  6. The city and county aren’t providing the funding that RWSA needs to do its job well. I’d have quit under those circumstances as well.

    Complaints like yours about the city raising the water prices are shortsighted and uninformed. The City of Charlottesville buys water from RWSA and sells it to the public without profit. The price set by RWSA has gone up. How exactly is the city to buy water at one price and sell it at a lower price? This is pretty basic math.

    RWSA had to raise the price of bulk water because, among other things, the Ivy landfill ran out of capacity and closed (which they operate). That was a major source of revenue that helped cover the costs of other operations.

    The need for water and trash disposal are growing while the costs associated with producing those things are rising. If the city didn’t raise the cost of water and trash disposal, then we would have what is known as a deficit. Perhaps you have bought into the idea that a deficit will magically create jobs and be good for puppies and Christmas, in which case I suppose that you must be a Republican and deaf to my point.

    In essence, your criticism of the City Concilors is a paradox all too common among people nowadays. You want more or better services from government and you also demand to pay less for it- math be damned. But honestly, anyone who promises you both is either a fool or a liar.

  7. It’s because every single citizen is capable in ways large and small of limiting the degree to which they use garbage services and water.

    Every citizen is capable in large ways and small of doing a lot of things. But when the daycare costs $130 per week and you’re making only $200 take home, then decisions are going to be made. Easy choices. And they get easier with time and easier with ever-relaxing ethical standards.

  8. No, what I want is the debate to be really honest. The problem is that government (local, state, federal) all over America plays ideological games. No one wants to admit there’s now, has been, and fast growing a crucial need for ‘transfer payments’ and advanced social infrastructures. Subsidized community daycares. Minimum living wages and mandated work conditions. National health care. In this case, advanced irrigation and water stockage planning. You name it, there’s a crazy lop-sided situation out there.

    Instead, most everyone has the infantile notion America is full of cowboys riding into the sun and all will just work itself out. So yes, the cost of a gallon of water is what it costs and it should be paid for without charging it onto future generations. But by the same token, if we could look at things straight, without all the ideological crap, we could make the right moves. Utopic? Probably. But when our leaders and elected officials deny reality, day after day, using “new economy” theories and “voodoo economics”, then they can’t blame people for believing in Wonderland, eh!?

  9. Every citizen is capable in large ways and small of doing a lot of things. But when the daycare costs $130 per week and you’re making only $200 take home, then decisions are going to be made.

    Indeed, and either way, every citizen will be paying for trash collection. We’ll either pay for it in our taxes, or in fees. But either way, we pay for it. If people are going to hurl entire garbage bags out of their car windows (as I believe you suggest will happen, if memory serves), then we’ll use the laws that we have in place to deal with that problem at that time. I’m aware of no widespread 30 lb. bag littering problem in other cities that charge appropriate rates for trash collection.

  10. There’s no need to be a sarcastic jerk about my comment (re: "…be good for puppies and Christmas.") What I said, in other words, was that Tropea needed to be supported and empowered, and if that meant financially and by raising water rates, then that’s what may need to be done.

    My point about council and "stop messing with the water rates" was in reference to their apparent waffling and indecisiveness. Increasing water rates every couple of weeks is not good management.

  11. Indeed, and either way, every citizen will be paying for trash collection. We’ll either pay for it in our taxes, or in fees.

    Yes, yes, yes. But my 2 harping points are:

    1. Do we decide that trashed vistas, garbage at the foot of monuments and litter all over the countryside are a priorty to avoid or not?

    2. With the acceptance that waste disposal is a necessary and priority in community management, then we can get creative. Economies of scale start to apply: [me dreaming…] America has made trash Job One and you know what happens when America decides to “just do it”, right? It does a helluva job. Intra-city, intra-county, intra-state systems, processes, machinery and so forth spring up all over the place. Maybe our waste can become the fuel of the future. Who knows what can happen when Americans decide it’s time to deal with it for real. What you suggest is taking the problem from the wrong end. Nothing revolutionary is going to happen when people simply try to avoid paying for trash stickers. Does that mean we can’t provide incentives to diminuish our quantity of trash? Sure we can. But it has to be part of a bold new system attacking the problem from all ends.

    Not just the same old, same old tactics that aren’t working.

  12. You are right that Tropea should have had more support than he had.

    In regard to "puppies and Christmas", I just couldn’t resist slipping that little ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ reference in.

  13. I think the difference here is that you’re assuming that people will, in the face of increased garbage disposal prices, strew garbage about the town. And I certainly agree that, if this did happen, it would be bad thing, and immediate changes would be necessary. But this is not currently happening here or anywhere else in the U.S., to my knowledge. (I’m certainly open to evidence to the contrary, ideally in the form of a newspaper article or research paper that can be linked to.)

    In fact, if memory serves, this feared illegal dumping did once happen a few months ago, and one of the weeklies wrote up a story about it. Somebody opened up the bag, found a bill with the name and address of the offender, and I guess called the police or something. If the disposal of garbage illegally is so uncommon that a single bag warrants a story in the newspaper, I suspect that this is a non-issue.

  14. I have no articles to link to, but based on my own experiences, I think Sympatico may be right. I lived within the city limits for one month. During that time, we produced an excessive amount of garbage, as we were recovering from a housefire and cleaning lots and lots of sooty things. As the cost of garbage pickup would have been prohibitive to us at the time, we did resort to a sort of illegal dumping: we deposited garbage in a private dumpster to which we had access, but did not allow private dumping.

    If trash collection continues to rise, we may not have 30 pound bags of garbage on the highway, but we may very well have problems in other, more subtle ways. Even worse, there may be people who are not as aesthetically conscious as I who would resort to dumping garbage anywhere, especially when private dumpsters are locked or are filled with garbage. Now of course I’m inagining a worst case scenario, but just a small amount of this behavior is worthy of being avoided. Despite the infrequency of local newspaper articles, this behavior does happen on a regular basis, as I have witnessed in my travels throughout UVA, the Corner and elsewhere.

  15. If you don’t see the trash everywhere, maybe you are not very observant, or you haven’t traveled to far cleaner places, or perhaps you are just very young. When I was in my twenties and studying in Boston, trash was frankly never on my mind, even though it was prevalent.

    There are ancillary consequences to trashy attitudes. Frequent cleanup costs are rarely factored in. Area desirability for deep pocketed corporations is a lost opportunity cost that could outweigh all the trash handling costs for who knows how long. Am I the only one that can see this?

  16. …you are assuming that if the media doesn’t cover it, then it doesn’t exist? The media’s radar screen, decades after Watergate, and now increasingly consolidated into right-wing conservative think-tanks, are really not a valid warning system. Hey, if NBC29 (or whatever they’re called; I don’t watch those jokers) didn’t report on the recent earhquakes while they were happening, does that mean they didn’t exist?

    I’m sorry trash is not a hip subject…

  17. I sort of got the impression that he meant examples from anywhere, not just local instances. The whole country. On another note, I just have to share this…

    The other day I went and purchased a sheet of trash stickers for the first time. In anticipation I took $20 out from the atm. I went up and asked for a sheet of the red stickers. $6 freaking dollars!!! From the conversations on this board I thought I’d be shelling out $15! This was peanuts, and I’m kinda poor. I about wet my pants. If that’s the cost to get rid of 10 bags of my trash then I have no idea what everyone is bitching about.

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