'User fee' is another term for tax increase
Hernando TodayCounty Commissioner Jeff Stabins thinks implementing user fees at parks, libraries and other public arenas might be a good way to help fill a $10.3 million budget deficit.
Published: July 2, 2010
Published: July 2, 2010
While we appreciate his efforts to balance the budget, this is just another tax on top of a tax.
We believe Commissioner Stabins is basically a fiscal conservative and we understand the difficulty of trying to balance the county budget and maintain services. However, to keep feeding a bloated bureaucracy is not the way to do it.
After the parks and libraries, what's next: a fee to get into county commission meetings?
Maybe the county could put up toll booths at major intersections and charge motorists to continue their travels.
What about charging to park at government centers? That way they could get you coming and going when you pay your property taxes.
The county could collect a parking fee when people go to the polls to vote. No fee, no ballot.
When you dial 911, you already pay a fee on your phone bill. Deputies could collect another fee before taking your complaint. Firefighters and paramedics could charge $50 before turning on the water or administering CPR.
Then again, that probably wouldn't look so good.
And what about those pesky kids who get into the parks without paying to park a vehicle? An extra "pay-to-play fee" could be charged on all sporting goods sold in Hernando County.
The idea could spread: The school district could supplement its ailing budget by charging students a user fee to attend school each day. Then again, students might use that as an excuse to drop out of school. Of course, taxpayers would have a smaller education bill to pay if fewer children attended school - just a larger prison bill.
No, none of those "revenue generating" ideas make sense to us.
Parks, libraries and government centers are essential services government is supposed to provide. They've already been paid for with our hard-earned tax dollars. Some taxpayers don't drive, but they still pay for streets. Some taxpayers don't use the parks, but a community without parks wouldn't be worth living in. Not everyone uses our public libraries, but they are the key to knowledge for many residents. A smarter, better educated public benefits all of us.
They are our buildings, our parks, our land - not the government's. Charging additional users fees to access what already belongs to us is ridiculous. It would simply serve to curb their use and add to the bureaucracy.
Unfortunately, county government has transferred the revenues to pay for those essential services to grow government beyond what taxpayers can afford.
The $10.3 million budget deficit that commissioners are looking at for the 2010-11 fiscal year exists because government has outgrown the size of its benefactors. It's bloated with too many managers, outrageous salaries and hefty health and retirement benefits.
That's where commissioners need to focus their budget-cutting attention. Any idea that generates additional revenue is simply another tax.
County Administrator David Hamilton proposes cutting staff and top-heavy salaries and we believe this is the wise thing to do.
Commissioners need to use a sharp scalpel on the 2010-11 budget instead of sticking another hand in our pockets.