Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Absurd position

Blaine County and the cities of Sun Valley and Hailey are mired in mediation over the idea that taxpayers should pay only for services they use.

The city of Sun Valley's largely seasonal population generates a relatively small number of calls to the area's emergency dispatch center. Thus, the city asserts that it should not pay for dispatch through a formula based on the number of dwelling and lodging units in a city.

The city claims that the county and other cities that generate more calls are fleecing their absent taxpaying homeowners. This sounds logical in theory, but if the theory were extended to other public services the outcome would be absurd and would rend the area's public services.

A few examples:

With a pay-per-use formula, instead of property tax levies that apply to all, only households with kids would pay for public schools. Childless adults, vacation homeowners and empty-nesters would be off the hook for school funding.

Owners who occupy homes here only in the summer wouldn't pay to plow city and county streets in the winter because they wouldn't use them. The costs of paving and repairing city streets and county roads would fall only fractionally on vacation homeowners and seasonal businesses.

Police services and the county jail would only get funding based on the number of households that generate criminals or are the victims of crime. Ouch.

Toll stations at parks and on public trails would fulfill the city's vision of fairness. Folks who like that idea will be enthused about home toilet meters that will generate sewer plant funding by the flush.

After all, fair is fair.

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