Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Should seniors be exempt from the trash tax?

Toledo City Councilman Michael Ashford wants to exempt seniors from the trash tax, presumably because of their age and the fact that they are on fixed incomes.

"The garbage tax greatly affects our senior homeowners who are on a fixed income and who have to make difficult decisions between high gas prices, medication, and do they pay this unwarranted garbage tax."

I've got news for Mr. Ashford - we're ALL on fixed incomes. None of us has the ability to just increase our incomes simply because we want to. As most of us don't set our own salaries, that means we're on fixed incomes. And we're all making difficult decisions between taxes (which we must pay or lose our homes), high gas prices and medicines. Remember - seniors aren't the only ones who take medicine - duh!

This pointless pandering to a special interest has reached the point of absurdity with this suggestion, especially considering the new rules that city council has put in place for this tax.

You see, if you recycle, you get a discount and, in three years, you'll pay nothing at all. So the way to reduce your 'costs' is to recycle. I recognize that houses with only 1 or 2 people in them might not have very much to recycle, and that's okay. There is no requirement that you put recyclables out every time - just that you keep your recyclables in separate containers and then put them at the curb when the containers are full. And if seniors are concerned about the size, they can always get smaller containers to fit their needs. That's what we did.

Now, the trash tax itself is, IMHO, illegal (see side bar on Trash Tax lawsuit) and we shouldn't have to pay it in the first place. But if you generate garbage, you should be taxed, and age has nothing to do with whether or not you generate garbage.

Ashford even has plans for how the city will cope with the loss of revenue:

Mr. Ashford said the money could be made up from three unspent capital improvement projects from 2006: $125,000 for a bridge deck overlay project, $200,000 for a Central Avenue facility salt conveyor, and $221,000 for a developer incentive pool.

Of course, taking money out of the Capital Improvement Funds to offset the general fund isn't a good idea, especially when we're talking about bridge deck overlays or 'economic development' incentives. But let's not get distracted by the realities of a budget when we're pandering to special interests...

And then there is Councilman Mike Craig's plan to use some of those CIP dollars for more road improvements in his district, despite the fact that many of these projects are in the process of being done.

If the trash tax is so onerous to senior citizens, it should be obvious that it is onerous to ALL Toledoans. Rather than worry about only one segment of our population, our elected officials should be worried about all of us. And if the city loses the lawsuit, they'll be facing more worries than just how to pander to seniors, as they'll be scrambling to return the $4.8 million/year they've already collected for this 'fee.'

In the end, council did not vote on this measure, saying it needed to be discussed in committee first. But they're missing the point.

City council should be working on how they're going to CUT SPENDING rather than working so hard to exempt some people from paying the high taxes and fees they so readily enact.


Carol said...


I watched Mr. Ashford on the news last night and became instantly angry. It was one of the most audacious news conferences I have seen him hold.

I am not insensitive to some of the challenges faced by the elderly. Quite the opposite actually. But it is morally offensive for Mr. Ashford to propose that because a person is deemed to be a senior citizen that they are somehow "entitled" to exclusion from this tax. Yes - I said tax, not fee.

Mr. Ashford must have a line on where there is a stand of "money trees" since he obviously feels that the rest of us can just walk out the door and Kaboom! pick up more cash to spend on Toledo's fabricated fees (aka taxes) that are a veiled level of double taxation.

If the madness doesn't stop soon then all that will be left in Toledo are the seniors - and they will all be exempt from all this crap. What will Toledo do then?

Tim Higgins said...


I have to ask what the surprise is here. Mr. Ashford is exhibiting two time honored political practices:

1. Divide and Conquer - This is sound strategy for both war and politics. Voters are easier to control when you can create a divide and allow them to attack each other. Opportunities abound for abuse during such distraction.

2. Create Victims - By making seniors victims whose only solace is government, Mr Ashford furthers the general atmosphere of victimization in the country, and in addition creates a sick form a jealousy for those of us who are not able to be victims in this way.

While the man deserves no credit for originality, he should at least get one point for knowing the rules of the game.

Robin said...

Yes, seniors should be exempt from the trash tax/fee. But, so should everyone else in Toledo.

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