Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Trash tax and broken promises: we told you so!

Well, well, well... I really hate it when we warn people what's to come in terms of taxation and we're right.

In this case, the "we" is me, Karen Shanahan, WSPD and any other person who commented on the radio or on the blogs about the trash tax never going away. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised about the most recent broken promise on the trash tax considering all the other statements made that have been 'modified' since the tax first went into effect.

As part of the budget debacle, Mayor Mike Bell recommended and Toledo City Council passed (not unanimously) an increase in the trash tax. They all call it a fee, but it IS a tax. For those (like me) who recycle, the fee went from $1 per month to $15 per month. We were promised that, if we passed Issue 5 on the primary ballot May 4th, the $15 would be reduced to $8.50 per month. The measure passed 55% to 45%.

They lied.

The ordinance introduced at last night's city council agenda meeting:

Amending Section 963.03(b) of the Toledo Municipal Code to revise the monthly refuse collection fees; and declaring an emergency.

Upon passage of Issue 5, the Administration is proposing a revised refuse fee structure of $5.00 per month for residents who are eligible for the Homestead Exemption as determined by the County Auditor and $10.00 per month for other City residents.

Yes, you read that correctly: $10 per month.

In case you're mathematically challenged, that's a 900% increase.
It's also an 18% increase over what was promised. And why, exactly, is the administration reneging on their promise?

It's easier for them.

"Easier"??? They've been doing two fees (recycling and non-recycling) for several years now, so how is this suddenly 'easier'? They've established fines for people who say they're going to recycle and then don't. They've given us (and charged us) for two different containers to make it 'easier' to recycle. They've told us that recycling rates are up. They even voted to sell landfill space because we've increased our recycling which has given us space in the landfill that can generate income.

Maybe they should think about how 'easy' this tax is for us to pay? Because it's not - and the last thing most of us are concerned about is paying more to make it 'easier' for the politicians!

Lisa Renee at Glass City Jungle has a summary of the conversation during the agenda meeting. From her notes:

"(Councilman Steve) Steel said the administration plan is different than before, (Deputy Mayor of Operations Steve) Herwat said it was, that they felt a standard across the board would be easier to administer."

This is a broken promise, plain and simple.

A majority of voters approved Issue 5 based upon the promises made regarding the roll-back of the trash tax. While I oppose the trash tax in any amount and opposed Issue 5 for its diversion of Capital Improvement Program funds into the general fund, I expected the promises made to be kept if the measure was approved. As did all city residents.

The fire fighters had agreed to pay their employee portion of their pensions as part of the concessions negotiated during the budget process. If Issue 5 passed, they were promised reimbursement of those amounts as well as a return to the city picking up everything they paid prior to the concessions.

Do you think the administration is going to break that promise the union?

No - but they're perfectly willing to break their promise to the taxpayers!!!!

Perhaps those who are cynical about elected officials' promises have every reason to be...

Also in the news was the rejection of the contract negotiated between the city and Teamsters Local 20 for the refuse workers. They rejected the agreed-upon terms unanimously.

And of course they did! The other unions, through one means or another, have gotten back all they originally gave up so why should the refuse workers not stand pat on their current benefits and wages?

So now the taxpayers are screwed - again - and the city unions are not really making any concessions whatsoever. So much for the 'shared pain' everyone was talking about in March.

And as I write this, I'm listening to Mayor Mike Bell being interviewed on NewsTalk 1370 WSPD. And he's saying that yes, he's managed to get a balanced budget for this year and will look at all the costs he's pushed into 2011 between now and the end of the year when he hopes to see increased revenues as a result of an improving economy.

But as so many are fond of asking, "what if" we don't see an improved economy in Toledo and those hoped-for revenues don't materialize? All we've done is postpone the inevitable.

How much do you think the trash tax will increase then?

No wonder we're losing population faster than we can count. People are disgusted and who can blame them?

***Note: This post probably doesn't reflect just how angry, livid, irate I am over the issue. But there really aren't words for the level of outrage I'm feeling.


Tom Kirkman said...

There is still plenty of room out here in Wood County. You can join the rest of us former Toledoans!

Maggie Thurber said...

Tom - thanks for the invitation, but that whole 'water' thing gets in the way....we LOVE being on Lake Erie....

Maybe Point Place can secede from the city of Toledo and go back to being part of Washington Township? We'd still be part of Lucas County, but wouldn't have the idiocy that counts for government in Toledo to deal with...


Mad Jack said...

Did the local government ever consider outsourcing the trash collection? I hear that Barone Sanitation does good work.

You know, you may have suggested secession from Toledo in jest, but as I write this I wonder if such an action is possible and what it would take. Any thoughts?

Roland Hansen said...

That's it! That is the final straw!
I am done. I have had it.
I have decided to move out of Toledo as soon as it is feasible and practical for me. When the real estate values get back to something a bit more reasonable, I plan to put my house up for sale.

Maggie Thurber said...

Mad Jack - there have been many discussions in the Point about seceding from Toledo, especially because it once used to be part of Washington Township years ago... The advantage of fire service was one of the factors in the vote to join the city.

I believe some people have looked into it but, if I recall correctly, it would require 'approval' from Toledo. Somehow, I don't believe they'd 'allow' the Point to go back into the Township. They city would have everything to lose if that happened, especially considering that Point Place is one of the more stable areas of the city.

Maggie Thurber said...

Roland - final straw? We hear ya!

James said...

It proves that politicians will lie to get what they want the voters to do on Election Day.

Karen SHANAHAN said...

The trash tax is such a crime... it just makes me crazy sometimes that this goes on and on... such an easy money grab for Toledo... and any other community in Ohio who is struggling to make ends meet. If the courts rule this legal... then taxpayers of OHIO will never have a say in their taxes again. And then, let's look at class action... the first ruling.. only those who protest officially can be included, but then the city has "misplaced" most of the protest letters. What hope is there, the court must agree to included everyone paying the fee, the City isn't capable of maintaining the needed records. Well come Monday and voice this concern.. 10:00 a.m. One Government center... let it be known we must be represented, every one of us in this law suit.

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