Thursday, June 03, 2010

Quick hits...TARTA, fish kills and mulch

A few quick hits on the news of the day while I await the delivery of 6 cubic yards of mulch from the City of Toledo.

(BTW - if you need mulch, the City has a great product at only $15 a cubic yard, which is quite a deal! And delivery is only $20. Hmmm...I wonder if this covers their costs or is this one of the reasons the city is in the hole with their budget? I think I'll think about that tomorrow or Sunday as I'm spreading the mulch around my yard.)

* TARTA is going to continue to push for a switch from property taxes to a sales tax as a method of funding, despite the fact that one of their member communities, Sylvania Township, voted against the proposal. They need unanimous support from their member communities to put the switch on the ballot.

Many of the suburban communities have been complaining for years about the lack of the service from this organization, despite the amount of money they pay for it. And with today's economic conditions, many struggling families are wondering why they're cutting back on their expenditures only to find they're paying for and/or subsidizing other peoples' method of transportation.

The TARTA levies (there are two of them) must be approved every 4 years by voters. A sales tax only has to be approved once, so that is certainly an advantage to TARTA. It would be applied on everything but prescriptions and groceries, raising the costs of all other items purchased in Lucas County and giving us one of the highest sales tax rates in the state.

TARTA likes to talk about how their estimates show people will pay less in sales tax than they do in property tax - but they never talk about the tax deductibility of those property taxes and how that might impact individuals who itemize. I've done calculations for our family and I know a TARTA sales tax will cost us more than the property tax.

But the biggest objection I have is that TARTA hasn't implemented many of the ideas from any of the studies they've done over the last 40 years or so. Today's paper quotes them as saying a bus costs about $45/hour to operate. There's no way they're going to ever break even if that is correct.

I heard one of the Monclova Township Trustees on the radio the other day talking about the increased pay the administration has gotten over the last several years. While I don't recall the exact amount, the figure of 20% sticks in my mind.

Oh - and the sales tax will generate roughly twice as much revenue for TARTA as the two current levies combined. So we'd be giving them even more money to run at a loss.

This just doesn't make sense.

* Fish kills at the Bayshore Power Plant cost us $30 million a year. At least, that's what the headline in the paper today says.

And how, exactly, do these dead fish cost us that much money? I have no idea - and the story doesn't say, though it does cite a 'study' as the source of the conclusion. But there's no link to the study so we can read it for ourselves and answer this question.

Oh - and the proposed solution is for the plant to build a $100 million cooling tower. What seems to be missed is that WE, the users of the energy from that plant, will have to pay for that $100 million cost - if it comes in at only $100 million. I think most people would say that other, less costly methods should be tried first. After all - what's more important to most people in the area: fish or their own checkbooks?

But here's the part that really gets me: the double standard.

Whenever an industry group does a 'study' that says a process or action is okay or not harmful, enviro-wackos claim the study cannot be trusted because of who paid for it.

***Side Note: I distinguish between enviro-wackos and normal individuals who happen to care about the environment and want to practice good conservation techniques - sort of like myself! So not all environmentalists are enviro-wackos.
End Side Note***

But when environmental groups - some of them known for 'radical' approaches - fund a study that says fish kills cost us $30 million a year, no one bats an eye or even remotely suggests that perhaps the study has a 'bias.'

See the double standard? When environmentalist groups fund a study, the study is valid - but when industry groups fund one, the study is biased and flawed.

You can't have it both ways.


Mad Jack said...

Those aren't fish; those are Sea Kittens. See?

Anyway, even if you don't care that the power plant is sucking down irreplaceable hydrocarbons, polluting the earth, air, fire and water as well as destroying $30 million in cute, cuddly, tasty little sea kittens every year, you did a great job on the TARTA rip off - ah, I meant to say, tax! try to think positive! tax, that the elected officials who don't care about their constituents are trying to shove down our throats.

Lisa Renee said...

I wasn't included in the press conference call yesterday for some reason, I was the last one, but...if you want to read the study. I found it link. How they come up with the number begins on page 4.

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