During the past Mayoral race, I can recall how the fire assessment fee was brought up. It was always to be levied against churches and non-profits. Over and over again, this was how it was framed. It was to be against churches and non-profits. Now we have discovered that they were not the only targets. Everyone is getting robbed!
It seems to me that this was the intention all along. But churches and non-profits were trotted out as the “someone else” that the public could accept as the victim of a higher tax burden. As long as it’s someone else that gets hit, it doesn’t move us. Now that people who live in the unincorporated area are getting their bills from the county, all property owners get to be that special “someone else”. Ah, yes. To borrow from Martin Niemoller, “When they came for the churches and non-profits, I did nothing.”
Now that the election is over, and reality is setting in, we need to consider why this new fee, and all the higher fees and higher utility rates happen. Simply put, it is the city’s addiction to meet needs that are not their responsibility. For instance, it is going to cost millions to narrow streets in Gainesville to make them more “pedestrian-friendly”. Then we are going to clog those marrow streets with nearly-empty buses and trolley cars. The money spent on this Soviet-style central planning is what SHOULD have been spent on the fire department. But selling people on “the street narrowing tax” would be a harder sell, so they deceive you by telling you that fire services must be cut if they don’t have the fee. The truth is, stupid planning adventurism must be cut!
We recently had to pass a bond to build the One-Stop Homeless Center and to refurbish a golf course that the city admits WILL NEVER MAKE MONEY. Every other golf course in the county makes money, but we need to take out a loan to keep this one running UNprofitably. Instead of whipping out the city’s Visa card, why not pass a Homeless Shelter and Golf Course Assessment Fee? Instead, we are baited and switched again. This expense will show up under “debt service” or something else that hides its meaning next year, when we have to make the payments. None of this stuff is free. And it’s all part of the reason you’re getting hit with a new fee.
And let’s not forget our glorious electric bills. In the city’s budget summary, they even tell us that rates must be raised because of the rate-payers’ conservation measures. It only makes sense. When they depend on tens of millions of dollars to flow in from GRU, and their customers cut back on how many kilowatt hours they use, they have to raise what they are charging per kilowatt hour! So, if you are like me, trying to implement cost savings by paying for new windows and solar tubes and solar hot water heaters out of my own pocket, and you wonder why your rates keep climbing, wonder no more! What you do means nothing! It’s all about the city and their appetite for your money!
Next time, elect people who want to do less with the power of city government. Elect people who want to cut back on government, cut back on fees and taxes, and have fewer needs to harass you. Elect me, Don Marsh, to be your at large city commissioner next March.