Thursday, August 21, 2008

REFUSE FEE Lawsuit.. thoughts

I read a few blogs about how silly this lawsuit was and a waste of time, I should spend my time doing something significant. I so completely disagree and want to say this to all the naysayers:

Interesting dialogue about the “Refuse Fee” and I wonder if the impact of the power of this illegal form of revenue enhancement has impacted the taxpayers of Toledo. According to the Toledo Municipal Code and the Ohio Revised Code, the voters must approve any additional tax in the form of a levy. Why is this? When we recently voted again to approve the ¾% “temporary tax”, had it not passed, our desperate politicians had the ability to change the “Refuse Fee” to $50 per month instead of $5.50 or $7.00 or $10.00 and the revenue would have equaled the millions achieved from the ¾% “temporary tax” (91000 households x $50 per month x 12 months $54,600,000) with the simple stroke of a pen and 7 yeas. Would Council do this? I don’t know, but the question remains, should they have the power to do this. I say NO; they should not have the power and both the TMC and ORC agree.

Also, ask this question: is this tax (not legal) or is this a fee (legal)? Through other court cases, the description of a fee has been defined: 1. Must be transactional (if you take a load of trash to the dump, you pay for that load only); 2. Must be based on usage (when you take the trash to the dump, you pay a fee based on the amount you take based on lbs. Or volume); 3, must be able to opt out of the fee (I only pay when I go to the dump, if I don’t go to the dump, I don’t pay.) Consider the other fees we pay: fee for a dog license; fee for a marriage license; fee for a drivers license; fee for a building permit; etc., and it becomes obvious this is a tax not a fee.

If this is a legal form of revenue enhancement, the City of Toledo would never need to put a tax levy on the ballot again, they would only need to increase the “Refuse Fee”. If anyone out there believes that next year it will remain $8.00 / $1.00 and the following year $10.00 / $0, then you are fooling yourself. The city spent a great deal of time patting themselves on the back at how much money they were pulling in, even over budget, and were so very proud of themselves. If done incrementally, we would become even more complacent then we are now as we justify the amount as only “$66” per year, and then only $96 per year, and then only $120 per year. When we think in this way, we make a molehill out of a mountain and that is how we ended up with a tax, which was passed as a fee.

In essence, City Council is stealing from the taxpayers through this illegal “fee”. If a shop owner catches a shopper stealing a $10 garment, they yell “thief” and want restitution… for a mere “$10” because of the accumulating effect of 1000’s of stolen $10 garments. We have laws to protect us from theft; we pay taxes for police, prosecutors, judges and jails so the “perps” can be prosecuted. And yet you cry “fowl” – a “molehill, a waste of time and effort, after all it’s only $66 per year… accumulating to $4,200,000 a year. I ask, is that really ok? Have taxpayers been harmed. You bet we have, so far in the amount of over $6,000,000!

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