Fox13, Fees, And The Hidden Tax Burden

Fox13, Fees, And The Hidden Tax Burden

Fox13’s Max Roth recently completed an in-depth report on the myriad of fees we must pay that cloak the true cost of government. I highly recommend reading/watching the report. I just have two caveats.

First, fees in and of themselves are not necessarily a bad thing. As Roth notes, many fees for services utilized on a personal basis are fine in my book. I much prefer I or the user pays rather than forcing everyone to pay for their interest (RAP taxes, City Recreation Centers, and mandated recycling are good examples of such). I have no real problem with State Park fees or most school fees (they’re my kids, I should pay for them). The take-away from this report, however, is that all fees do need to be looked at with an air of suspicion. That includes fee categories, such as the school fees – is each part of the school fee really necessary or are some a means of subsidizing someone else’s interest/program/budget? As demonstrated in the report, fee abuse occurs and serves as an run around truth-in-taxation and transparency resulting in government over-reach  and increased burdens on individuals and families.

Second, Roth didn’t notice (probably doesn’t realize) another very effective tactic several Utah cities use to avoid truth-in-taxation. Cities with a municipal (city-owned) power company are well known to manipulate the power rates and customer charges to generate additional revenue. Unlike, private power companies, the cities also don’t have oversight from the Public Service Commission when raising rates. The overcharged rate revenue is transferred into their general fund. Just as noted in the report related to fees, the cities then blare that they have low taxes and/or haven’t raised taxes for x years.

It would be nice to see a follow-up on both issue and see them addressed. Kaysville residents got sick of waiting and just passed Proposition 5 to terminate the power rate manipulation by their city – here’s hoping others will take notice and follow suit.

More on the power transfer subject can be found here.

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