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CHANGE for a small town

Your city bill going up again reads the small town weekly. The article chronicles the mayor and city council increasing fees to cover shortfalls in collections. In the world outside of city hall, incomes are shrinking, budgets are tightening and people are straining with some rather dramatic family fiscal problems. For the boys inside the answer is obvious: raise taxes.

The two-income family suddenly finds Dad’s construction job is gone. All construction jobs are gone. He and his coworkers are selling their tools on Craig’s List, if they can find a buyer. All that’s left coming into the bank is mom’s job as a grocery store clerk.

Dropping by the Dollar Store for doo-dads stops immediately. The Starbucks lattes give way to a 5-pound can of Folgers. Lunch and dinner out are OUT. “Turn off the light. You are wasting electricity” becomes a household phrase. Suddenly 64 degrees is warm enough in the house if you dress properly. Re-hydrated dried beans show up in the meals. Too bad these poor folks are stuck trying to get money by doing something people want to pay them to do.

Over in city hall, they don’t have that problem. If you don’t want to pay their fees, take your house and yard elsewhere. They see a drop in income and respond by adding a fee for street lights. “Hey! Turn the darn thing off!” If I need to walk on a night the moon is hidden, I’ll take a flashlight. Or maybe I’ll take my car with it’s conveniently-mounted lights front and rear. While everyone around them are tightening their belts, these guys don’t have a problem reaching deeper in their neighbors’ pockets to keep $85,000-per-year worth of electricity flowing to the night lights burning over the empty streets.

It wasn’t but a few years ago that this particular town government was populated by volunteers. Their income came from their jobs and businesses. AH, but we can’t have a town run by amateurs, can we? NO, let’s give ourselves a real paycheck so “we can focus our full attention” on the big affairs of this one-traffic-light town. You can bet a reduction or elimination of this recent expense isn’t on the agenda.

With one dissenting vote, the City Council increased water-sewer-garbage-irrigation fees. I vote they sell the facilities and open the market to competition. Private property and free enterprise have a way of delivering the needed goods at the lowest cost. Maybe I can landscape without irrigation. Maybe I can drive a water truck around the town making a living irrigating numerous yards. Let the people prioritize their own family needs.

The city council also increased the “franchise fee” they charge to the Don who gets exclusive access to the townfolks’ trash cans. Everywhere this type of system is in place, the monthly per-can charges are triple or more where there is competition for trash collection, AND the Dons contribute heavily to local election campaigns … hmmmm. Composting your own trash, reduction in waste contributions and other efficiencies can make the weekly can into a monthly one, or even eliminate it for a serious waste-stream watcher. But selling the turf and mandating contributions keeps the mayor’s paycheck coming in and enough papers crossing his desk to justify his office space.

Oh yeah, in another twist in the English language worthy of George Orwell’s “Newspeak” the council claims that various strokes of their pens will “generate revenue”. Generate heck. They are taking earned money from people by force and redistributing it by whimsy.

Meanwhile, two construction types who landed better-paying jobs pawing building permits for the town now get paid to play cards 40 hours a week waiting for the construction boom to resume.