Replacing Taxes with Fees

My father said that after Proposition 13 passed in California the number of fees local cities charged rose sharply. We had a swimming pool. There was a fee to drain it down the gutter after 1978. Dad ran it down the shower drain instead.

The New York Times reports cities again are on a wave of charging fees to make for revenues being lost elsewhere. Get in a wreck? Next week you might get a bill from the agencies that responded. Got streetlights on your street? Cities elsewhere are adding monthly fees to pay for their maintenance. Idling your car? It could cost you.

Washington’s mayor, Adrian M. Fenty, has proposed a “streetlight user fee” of $4.25 a month, to be added to electric bills, that would cover the cost of operating and maintaining the city’s streetlights. New York City recently expanded its anti-idling law to include anyone parked near a school who leaves the engine running for more than a minute. Doing that will cost you $100.

“The most dangerous places on Staten Island are the schools at drop-off and dismissal time, when parents are parked three deep in the road,” says James S. Oddo, a City Council member from Staten Island who voted for the measure. “There is a mentality here that Johnny can’t walk 100 feet, he has to be dropped off right at the front of the school — and frankly that’s why Johnny is as pudgy as he is.”

This is an issue that has come up more than once during this legislative session. Tax increases require a two-thirds vote. Fee increases, such as the one to add $20 to recording fees, require no such action. But opponents argue that those fees smell like taxes to the people paying them.

One thought on “Replacing Taxes with Fees

  1. Why not fees for users of a service. Its not like we do not get those now from every business we deal with. A dollar for tire disposal, a $3.00 fee for a bank machine, a fuel fee for the taxi, etc. etc. etc. I just think as consumers we need to be allowed to collect fees also. Say a dollar for waiting in line for more than 30 minutes, or $2.00 to give you my business, or $20 when you call me during dinner with a pitch for your favorite charity or politician. The fees should be two ways. That would be a win, win for all, right?
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

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