March 30, 2011

Where's the Money Supposed to Come From?

Justin Katz

On Monday night, the Tiverton Town Council finally let the ax swing on a new trash collection system that will at least double the cost of curb-side pickup for residents. (The metaphor is meant to indicate an executioner, not a lumberjack.)

The Tiverton Town Council approved a contract on Monday night to begin a trash metering program on May 16. Town officials state they will notify the more than 7,000 residents who use Tiverton’s trash service that they [must] purchase and use special bags for the pay-as-you-throw program, or else their roadside rubbish will not be taken a few weeks after that date.

Yes, prior councils have not adequately prepared the town for the expense of closing the dump in a few years. Yes, it's only a hundred, or a couple hundred, dollars more in expense per year. Yes, provisions have to be made. But this sort of fiscal responsibility is real easy for folks whose oil tanks don't dry up on Christmas Day, as mine did. For the rest of us, where is this money supposed to come from?

Inasmuch as a some hundreds of dollars per year are already collected, per household, to pay for garbage pickup via property taxes, this is not truly a pay-for-use reform. We cannot opt out of 50% or so of the cost. What remains is not sufficient for us to make other arrangements.

Moreover, this new fee structure is essentially a 2-4% tax increase added to what is sure to be a 4-5% increase in regular property taxes, which comes on top of last year's 7-8% increase. To my knowledge, no public contract is going down in cost; no departments are seeing their budgets reduced, and yet homeowners are presumed capable of tightening their belts ever more. If my experience is any indication, many residents have seen their income stagnate or even decrease over the past few years; many have been unemployed.

Where's the money supposed to come from? Guess we'll just notch our quality of life down accordingly.

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Death by a thousand cuts.

If Rhode Islanders received a single lump sum bill for their government services each year, there would be rioting in the streets. The only way to convince them they are getting their money's worth is to obscure the total amount they are actually paying. People have no idea.

Posted by: Dan at March 30, 2011 8:51 AM

In the 19th century Europeans fled oppressive government and economic depression to find freedom and opportunity in America. Perhaps that's the right move for working people in RI today.

Posted by: BobN at March 30, 2011 9:41 AM


Please take a look at my comments to Don Botts and offer your insight.

Posted by: Phil at March 30, 2011 6:55 PM

"If Rhode Islanders received a single lump sum bill for their government services each year, there would be rioting in the streets"

No there wouldn't.
Sometime circa 2030 the state will finally elect a non Democrat legislature, after the (broadened) sales tax has hit 23%.
Not until then.

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at March 30, 2011 7:31 PM

I guess Phil needs Justin's insight because he has none of his own. Jeeze Phil, why don't you stick your neck out and actually take a position of your own on something for once?

Posted by: BobN at March 30, 2011 8:03 PM

Let's remember that, to a great extent, this town council is Taveras cleaning up after prior Cicilline town councils.

Of those prior councils, it cannot be asked often enough: what did the budget and the tax rate do for, oh, say, the last ten years as contrasted with the town's population? And how do you defend this egregious non-correlation?

Posted by: Monique at March 31, 2011 8:56 AM
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