Steve Kurtz
~ It's a beautiful world ~

Just call a spade a shovel

February 15th, 2009

The City of Philadelphia is proposing a Garbage Collection Fee. They want to charge residents $5.00 per week to have garbage collected. At the outset, this does not seem like much. Even if you do the math, it’s $260 per year for an arguably necessary service. The city estimates it will raise one billion dollars in revenue over five years with this new program, which will offset a similar five year planned increase in spending. It certainly sounds like a winning proposition.

But why the new charge? Haven’t tax dollars funded this service for years? Truly they have. So why this new fee? After all, if a city provided service need more funding, shouldn’t more tax dollars be allocated?

I don’t have a problem with funding necessary services, but it seems to me this is just one way to limit a tax increase while still getting money from residents. But when a government collects money from it’s constituents, isn’t that a tax? If it were truly a for-fee service (like internet, telephone, etc) it would be provided by a variety of competing third party companies. Are residents going to be able to select the frequency of trash pickup? No, it will be once a week. Are residents being given a selection of service providers to choose from? Doubt it. Will residents be able to cart their own trash to the dump and forgo the new fee? Probably not. Sort of sounds like an imposed monopoly.

So let’s just call it like it is. The city needs more money and is proposing an additional $5.00 per week Garbage Collection Tax. There … isn’t that better?

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