Monday, October 19, 2009

Toledo government's 'loss' is taxpayers' gain

Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner is at it again with a 'letter' to both mayoral candidates and Toledo City Council, chastising them for not 'raising revenues' for the city. (see bottom of post for the three-page letter)

He again cites his proposed increase in the trash tax and the elimination of reciprocity for payroll income taxes paid to other jurisdictions as 'revenue' the city should be collecting.

But the perversion of thought that passes for logic in Toledo politics is most evident in this statement from the letter:

"Our refuse fee is one of the lowest in Michigan and Ohio - $8.50 per month if you don't re-cycle (stet) and $1.00 per month if you do. We lost $8.4 million this year because it is so low."(emphasis added)

I'll skip over the whole point that our payroll taxes are supposed to pay for this service and the 'refuse fee' is over and above those payments. I'll also skip over his hyphenation of the word 'recycle' - and even the mention of Michigan prior to Ohio.

Let's look at the perspective Carty has with his claim that "we lost $8.4 million." Just who is the 'we'? He clearly means the city bureaucracy because he certainly isn't referring to the taxpayers.

And he considers the lack of imposition of additional taxation a 'loss.' Now, that may be true in terms of the government. However, he fails to see the reality of the situation in that failure to pass this additional tax meant the residents of Toledo 'saved' $8.4 million. Those who would have been taxed actually kept all that money to themselves.

And what happened to that money? Well, we spent it - on items we needed like food, mortgages, utilities, college educations or even amenities that helped our local economy. Or perhaps we saved the money, putting it into a bank account and providing a resource for a longer-term goal - or even assets upon which the bank could base lending to others.

This is a really terrific thing for the taxpayers and for our local economy. Rather than turning over the money to government, we kept it and used it for our own purposes.

Carty, instead of complaining that the city 'lost' something it had no right to, should be advertising how much 'extra' residents of this city had as a result of the failure to implement an additional tax.

But Carty, the local paper and the members of council who support this taxation see only one side of the coin: additional money from us that they don't have to play with.

And they conveniently fail to address the 'what if' when it comes to the trash tax: what if they lose a lawsuit over whether or not their so-called fee is, indeed, a tax and implemented illegally? If they lose that case, they'll have to repay what they've collected to date. Where will that money come from and how much more in debt will the city be then? Well, let's not even think of that, they must be saying to themselves.

Toledoans are fed up with the way this government is spending our money - continuing to fund studies and non-essentials while cutting police and other required services. They say there's no where else to cut, but we obviously don't believe them because we see them spending money on such frivolousness as life insurance coverage for themselves and other non-mandatory items they justify with the 'it's only' logic.

But the bigger problem in all this is the perverted reasoning and perspective that permeates the halls of One Government Center: that forcibly taking more of your money (at any time, but especially in a down economy) is somehow 'good' for you, while the opposite - you keeping your own money - is somehow a 'loss' for government and a really terrible thing for the city.

We have an election on November 3rd. Do we have the courage to elect people who believe that government's 'loss' is, indeed, the taxpayers' gain?

Or will we just elect the same old names and philosophies that got us into this mess in the first place?

The letter:


Karen SHANAHAN said...

If they say it enough times, we'll start believing it... and forget we pay a high payroll tax which is to cover police, fire and refuse collection let alone a 3/4% temporary tax which is to ensure these services. As I talk to others about how this is not a legal tax (the refuse fee), I'm always amazed that residents are accepting the "fee" because the city "needs" the money, what would they do without it. My reply, "get it legally". The longer time passes with residents paying this fee, the more they will forget it is ill gotten gains.

Black Swamp Road Geek said...

Rather than wasting time recalling a mayor that was in the last year of his term, an effort should have been made to recall the 3/4% tax. It has been a crutch for citty council ever since it was created and it is time for the city to do without it. Get government out of the garbage business, the parking garage business and any other business that private entities could accomplish. At the same time, the people of Toleod need to grow up and realize that the garbage collection that they have of unlimited all the time is completely unreasonable. Privatize the garbage, and have the residents pay for what it costs. Period

Tim Higgins said...


I found it interesting that according to the wording of the letter, that he appears to believe that we lost $8.4 million this year because of the trash fee.

Wow, how much does trash collection cost in Toledo? Somehow I believe that the mayor, who by his own admission doesn't know how bills get paid in the city, is a little off on the cost of refuse collection.

Even assuming that this "low" fee was legal however (which I do not), why was it originally proposed if it would produce a such a shortfall. Either Carty is wrong on this (NO, say it ain't so!), or he is once again playing fast and loose with the numbers as those of his days diminish.

Maggie Thurber said...

Tim - the $8.4 million is if the additional amount is collected for a full year...and the 'fee' was never intended to pay for the entire cost of the service - it was just a way to get more money into the general fund and using 'trash' was the way they thought they'd get support from the public...

all games...

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


I find that ignoring anything our "beloved" mayor has to say about anything in Toledo politics is the preferable way of dealing with his self-serving prattle.

And my blood pressure is no longer out of control and in need of excessive control measures ;-)

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