Monday, April 20, 2009

Cutting Spending with Spite

I am in Dallas this week for a training class. I noticed in the Ft. Worth paper this evening that one of the plans to help the city of Arlington make ends meet, they are going to turn off half of the streetlights. This will save $4.50 a month, per light.

To note which lights have been turned off, they are going to mark them with silver tape. So, you can tell the difference between burned out and turned out.

This is how cities and counties get to show how cheap they are. In the face of public demands for cost cutting, they start doing away with frivoloties like police patrols, and fire department funding. And streetlights. Can't afford to lay off the parking valet at the city commisioners court, or the second assistant to the principal's secretary at the middle school.

On the other side of cheapness and greed is D.C.'s idea to impose a new fee. A 'Streetlight User Fee.' $4.25 would be added to your electric bill to help pay for maintining and running the city streetlights.

Some cities are charging citizens for police response. Have a wreck, get a bill for the police showing up. In Amarillo, they don't even show up for some accidents; you do a report by phone, and for a fee, you can have a copy.

Last time I bought something, I paid tax on it. About eight percent. It has been my understanding that cities and states levy taxes on citizen's purchases to pay for infrastructure. There has been an arguement of late that we should replace taxes with user fees. It appears that governments like the idea of user fees. Like it so much, they are just going to add them to the taxes. And have both.

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