No new taxes?

By:  Diane Benjamin

To taxpayers, raising fees is the same thing as raising taxes.  Since the City has proudly proclaimed there are no tax increases in the 2016 budget, remember when you are forced to pay more – It’s Not A Tax.

From the 2016 Budget – Book 1, page 35:  http://www.cityblm.org/Modules/ShowDocument.aspx?documentid=8224

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Comments

  1. Scott McCoy says:

    While it may seem fees are the same as taxes to the taxpayers, this is simply not accurate. Usage fees are far more “fair” than taxes, since the shared burden isn’t placed on all tax payers. I agree that it’s still more money out of our pockets (if you pay for these services), but the public should understand there is a clear difference between usage fees and taxes. And this is a bit of a political shell game for governments, but the citizens should have a proper understanding of it instead of just lumping everything as bad without explanation.

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    • Spoken like a true politician. The bottom line is still the same, less money people get to decide how to spend since government needed it.

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      • Scott McCoy says:

        There is no need to poke at me. If I remember correctly, you ran for office as well. The bottom line is taxes and fees are not the same, and you would understand this if you would have a conversation instead of trying to combat everyone who makes a comment. My comment was to offer information to the public so they are informed. If that’s not the purpose of your site/blog, then please let me know.

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      • So, it’s okay to steal people’s money if it’s called a fee because that’s fair? Really? I hope you didn’t run as a Republican. Call it anything you want – it’s steal theft of citizen assets because government thought they needed it more.

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      • Scott McCoy says:

        Again, stop poking and making fun of me personally. I didn’t poke at you, so there is no need to go there. Let’s have a conversation and not a “spat” please.

        Not everything government does is bad or wrong. There is too much of it for sure, but just because government does it doesn’t make it bad by default. When I was elected, it was to change what was wrong with our local government – and I did exactly what I said I was going to do. We need to keep in mind that government is a fluid entity made of people we send there to run it on our behalf. Some of those people hopefully are good people and do the right things. If not, it’s our fault and not “government’s” fault. And the voters can make better choices to run our government if those with the ability to educate the voters is responsible and provides the truth and facts. We have the responsibility to help the public understand the direction that is best, instead of beating them over the head with it if they don’t agree with you.

        Regarding the fees – they are more “fair” in general than taxes. I’m not referring to any specific fee with my comment. I was simply referring to your assertion that taxes and fees are basically the same thing to the public. In many cases, usage fees can greatly offset a tax base service and save taxpayers money. That’s not my opinion, that’s a fact. And I wanted to share this with the public.

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    • If garbage collection were done by a private enterprise, I would agree with you. If the enterprise raised fees to the point of my discomfort, I would look for a competitor and likely sign up with them at a better price for the same service.

      When the government is involved, I don’t have that choice, do I? If I’m a captive customer, then raising fees IS tantamount to a tax increase! I have no choice but to pay.

      The semantics aren’t that nuanced when you look at it from this perspective.

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      • Scott McCoy says:

        Gent, since you are specifically talking about garbage collection, I’ll use this in my following comment.

        First, garbage collection by the city is not much different than a private collection business. In some municipalities, they use private collection companies and control the fees through ordinance and agreement. But in general, the service and fees come out the same – as they are controlled by the local government.

        Second, garbage collection is a collective service. Meaning, it’s cheaper than paying a private company to pick up your trash each week. It’s a benefit to the entire city and keeps costs down – relatively speaking.

        Here is where it beaks down…

        There is a cost to pick up the trash. If the fees do not cover this cost, then tax dollars will make up the difference. You’ll pay for it either way.

        Now, depending on how these usage fees are earmarked and reserved by ordinance (and in some cases state law), depends on how they can be applied. Usage fees should never be used for other purposes. For example, you can’t collect garbage fees then put that money into parks. But, when fees are applied properly they can offset the tax that would have to make-up any difference. An example would be someone who creates more trash than others. If I pay for one trash tote of garbage per week, and my neighbor has four totes worth each week, my tax dollars would subsidize my neighbors use of the service. However, if the fee structure was correctly based on how much you use the service, then my neighbor pays for it 100% themselves – and not me or you.

        In this case, if done correctly, you never have to worry about other’s usage. This is how a private business would operate. But governments collect taxes from the whole for the good of the whole (in theory – haha), and that isn’t fair when the services provided can be calculated or fixed. We all share roads and there is no way to know who uses the roads more or less, so taxes pay for it. But garbage collection is a different story, and usage fees are much more fair to everyone if done properly.

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      • Scott:

        I don’t mean to be difficult or argumentative, but let me ask you this question: When has government ever offered me (or anyone) a better product at a cheaper price? The truth of the matter is that it can’t. It’s simply not in its nature to do so.

        Obviously, you have a statist mindset. Otherwise, there is no way you could type “But governments collect taxes from the whole for the good of the whole” with a straight face.

        I, on the other hand, am as close to an Anarchist as you will most likely meet in this world. Contrary to whatever images that term just flew through your head, Anarchist and hard-core Libertarians live by pretty simple rules: I cannot initiate any violence against you or your property, nor can I harm you or your property in any way. We also have a right to defend ourselves when threatened with violence or harm.

        As long as I live by those rules, you have no claim to anything of my life or my property. Conversely, as long as you live by those rules, I have no claim to anything of yours.

        Now, let’s look at Garbage collection through the lens of the Anarchist. Is garbage nasty? Yes, it is. Does it need to be dealt with? Yes, it does. On this point, I am sure we both agree that something needs to be done about garbage.

        I pay a collection company to collect by the pound. So does everyone else. This is, in the truest sense of the term, the ‘fairest’ way to pay for garbage. In a free market without any government interference, there would be many vendors of such a service. Free enterprise makes for many competitors, and many competitors makes for better services at cheaper prices. I see no point in subsidizing my neighbors garbage collection. I am responsible for mine, so I take care of mine. You are responsible for yours, so deal with it!

        What if my neighbor doesn’t do anything with his garbage? I think we can agree that my neighbor is causing a bit of a nuisance in that case. Wouldn’t you agree?

        The smell. The bugs. The flies. The rats and coons. The potential for diseases, etc., right?

        In that case, the government now has an opportunity to do the only thing I/we believe it should do – to promote justice. This is governments one and only true function. It has no business doing anything else but this.

        How would government promote justice in this case? I would eventually (after whining and yelling incessantly, I am certain) be forced to sue my neighbor for allowing his garbage to become a nuisance to my life and property. My neighbor HAS infringed on my well-being, wouldn’t you agree? I am certain an arbiter would agree as well. I would receive damages for whatever I may have suffered. The trash would be removed, and my neighbor billed for the service. The example would be set for any other yahoo’s who would think about letting their trash pile up to such a degree ever again. A simple common law would have been formed, and enforced from time to time as needed.

        This also serves as a regulating function for the vendors who pick up the garbage. They will dispose of it properly and safely, for face similar consequences.

        There is a free market solution to everything. Government just needs to get out of its way.

        (Addendum: This was an article about garbage collections and ‘fees’ (taxes), so this is what I replied to. Please do not reply with, ‘What about the roads?”. “What about the military?” “What about the (insert the dumb thing you think only government can provide here)?” If you really want to know, go research it. People much smarter than I have laid all this out better than I ever could, and I have no intention of spending any amount of time arguing statists who just cannot fathom life without a government.)

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      • Scott McCoy says:

        Gent,
        Okay, let’s stay on the topic of garbage collection. I’m not going to get into your assumption that I love government and what it to take care of us. In fact, I consider myself a Conservative-Libertarian. But I do feel government has a role in many aspects, including garbage collection.

        In your world, your tax dollars would be spent suing all kinds of residents who don’t take care of their garbage. The fact is that this already happens for ordinance violations. It’s costly, rarely turns out with a resolution, and takes a long time. Then, 90 days later it starts all over again. But if garbage pickup wasn’t provided it would be 100 times worse.

        Garbage pickup is negotiated by a city as one large group (like insurance). There are private collection haulers available, but my guess is you still use your city trash service because it’s cheaper for you. Am I right? Did you request removal from your garbage collection fees and are paying for your own private collection service? As an Anarchist, this helps you separate and be free from the government. Or, are you allowing yourself to take advantage of what your local government is offering you to save a few bucks, despite your values?

        Let’s get to a real-world, true example…

        In my hometown, we switched from city pickup to using a commercial business because we were able to negotiate a better price with them over what it cost the city. They were cheaper for the same service than the city could do it for using city workers and equipment. So, that’s what we did. But the city negotiated as a city – not as a bunch of individuals. It not only saved tax dollars by eliminating costs of city personnel and equipment, but it actually saved the residents money directly on their garbage collection bills!

        I’m all for a free market solution. The great thing about the free market is that it allows people to have choices – and those choices allow those in the free market to succeed or fail. Nothing is stopping the private garbage haulers from taking away the residential pickup business right now. If you want private collection, you are free to have it. But that’s not happening, is it?

        It’s a good discussion and I appreciate your respectful nature, Gent. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get my garbage out so the city can pick it up tomorrow. 🙂

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      • Dude…lol

        There are SO many things wrong with your analysis, I wont even bother nick-picking it to death. Every REAL conservative/Libertarian who read what I wrote, said to themselves, “Damn, Gent just nailed the crap out of that”.

        It wasn’t hard. The children of Libertarians could have done this with their fingers broken. Seriously!

        Small wonder everyone thinks we’re a bunch of lunatics, when people like you ‘call’ themselves Libertarians and can still muster up favorable arguments for ANY utility the government might have to offer. Apparently, getting rid of government garbage collection is just a bridge too far for you. Sadly, that’s why I refer to you as a statist.

        If you cannot wrap your arms around the simplest of things that the government can divest itself of like garbage collection, you MUST stop referring to yourself as a Libertarian. Just start referring to yourself as a Republican from here on out, and no one would be the wiser.

        Peace be with you.

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  2. BNTransplant says:

    What is more upsetting to me about this is the fact that they didn’t forecast correctly…did they not forecast conservatively? Were they going to depend on the new cart fees to pay for all aspects of the waste program? It would be interesting to see how much of the budget is already going towards the new waste program and how did that change from the prior program…while I support usage fees over blanket tax increases, I’m still not sure this change is fully warranted at this time.

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  3. aprilhuber@frontier.com says:

    shared public

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  4. Scot, You’re too touchy and sensitive to hold office. She didn’t poke at you. Are you a relative of Tari? What’s the matter with you liberals? Do you wear diapers? ARE YOU SISSY BOYS? Now, THAT”S A FEW POKES! Diane is right, usage fees are nothing more than taxes by another name.

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  5. Scott, Is it cheaper to have city workers pick up the garbage when you factor in the pensions? Also if User fees are far more fair than taxes than lets get rid of all the taxes and do the far more fair thing and have the government only take money through user fees. The problem with user fees is it sounds good in theory but why do I have the feeling governments will simply increase them every year until the people who want the services can no longer afford to have them.

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    • Scott McCoy says:

      Jeff, I don’t have all the figures and costs (which wasn’t my point), but if it’s not cheaper, then the city should look at hiring it out to a company. I’m okay with either as long as it’s best for the city.

      Regarding taxes and fees, please read my comments above. Taxes are necessary for general services, such as roads, snow removal, street lights, etc. What keeps the usage fees in-line would be the public being informed. It’s no different than taxes. You have to be informed in order to make good decisions about your government.

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  6. Let’s imagine what could happen if public works were sold out to private enterprise. There is really a lot of things to consider of which this post will probably only scrape the surface. I’ll try to be brief.
    1) The contract would probably be handed to a large corporation which is profit driven. 2) Much of that profit money would probably leave town i.e. not spent here. 3) The public would have little say concerning costs, with the exception of if the citizens could hire a different competing contractor. 4) In due time, cost would be higher than what the city charged. This is a common history of how the ball bounces. On the other side I would rather keep the public works department, keep the jobs here and their paychecks here. Not profit driven, the citizens would have a say through their elected officials. The pensioners mostly stay here due to their roots. The issue that needs to be addressed in the pensions for future hires. Keep the contract for those that are contracted. Keep the promise, assure integrity and then people will want to live here.

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