Letter: New User Fee or Tax?
I spoke at the City Council meeting on July 21, in favor of fixing storm water sewer and drainage problems in Carmel like those on Emerson Road. Some of these problems have been festering for over 10 years. However, I was not in favor of Ordinance D-2154-13 that established storm water User Fee which is most people’s minds is another word for “tax.” It passed. The new fee/tax goes into effect Nov. 1 and so does the creation of a storm water utility. Yes, more government.
Three pages from the 2014 budget that was submitted by the Mayor and approved by the City Council show that no money was budgeted for maintenance, repair, or enhancements to storm sewers or drainage by the engineering department or as cum capital development. I also noticed that nothing was budgeted for in any category for cum capital sewers. It is beyond imagination that any city of 80,000 people would budget for no expenditures in these categories, especially when the budget included millions for nice-to-have things.
Now, let’s look at another recent budget underestimation regarding street repaving. In that case, not enough was budgeted in 2014 for street repaving. As anyone could observe, numerous streets in Carmel need repaving. The City Council subsequently moved about $700,000 from the Rainy Day fund to get streets repaved. Does anyone see a budgeting trend?
A user fee/tax that is now law will take in over $3 million a year, $4.95 a month for residential users and an unpublished cost for churches, non-profits, and businesses. Do we really need $3 million a year to fix these problems? There has been no study that has been made public to identify how much is needed in the long run but Carmel government wants taxpayer money. We all know what will happen with the funds that will be collected, they will be spent.
I am sure the storm water infrastructure didn’t fall apart overnight. The deterioration has been ongoing over many years. Despite increases in City budgets the problems didn’t get funded adequately or fixed. Now we are told there is no money and we need a user fee/tax virtually immediately.
I am also amazed with all the information we see in articles about Carmel this problem was kept a secret. I just wonder how many other problems will pop up in the future that we don’t know about. That is why transparency in government is such a big issue.
Well, I’d better go adjust my budget so I have money set aside to make my new payments.