IBJOpinion

EDITORIAL: City should phase in new fees

 IBJ Staff
January 2, 2010
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
IBJ Editorial

Mayor Greg Ballard is on the right track with his plan to ask the City-Council to raise fees on businesses in order to improve code enforcement. Over the years, the lack of enforcement has likely resulted in higher costs for police and fire runs and environmental cleanups, to name just a few public services.

But the push-back he’s receiving from the business community is understandable. The mayor needs to listen, and it seems he is.

For weeks now, the administration has been speaking with business groups and other stakeholders about the proposal, and originally intended to introduce the plan to the City-County Council this month. Now, because of opposition, the administration is looking to later in the quarter.

All 27 business classifications would see fees rise, and many of the proposed increases are steep. Taxicabs would go from $100 to $471 per vehicle. Transient merchants would see fees rise from $20 to $213. Trash haulers, $20 to $479. Pay parking garages, $20 to $475. Some of the fees haven’t been increased since the 1970s.

Even though the fees should have been updated years ago, it’s hard to fault business owners for complaining. The proposed increases came with little warning, and the increased costs couldn’t come at a worse time. Many of the businesses that survived the recession are barely hanging on.

If the fees are implemented under the current proposal, they would raise an anticipated $3 million. That’s what actuarial firm Milliman calculated the fledgling Department of Code Enforcement needs to issue permits and licenses and enforce codes.

Currently, code enforcement generates virtually no revenue. And lax oversight costs taxpayers through criminal prosecutions and civil court complaints when bad operators who might otherwise have been denied a license cause trouble.

Ballard’s approach is consistent with his legitimate, overarching philosophy of bringing fees into line with actual costs of regulation.

However, considering the size of the increases and the timing, this isn’t the time to push through the entire proposal. Ballard should phase the higher fees in over two or three years. That should be plenty of time for businesses to prepare for and digest the higher costs.

In the long run, viable businesses will be able to absorb such increases, even if it requires charging consumers a little more.

The city has no choice but to raise money any way it can. Property tax revenue has been diminished by state property tax caps and will erode further this year as the caps are fully phased in.

Local governments, which in many instances are prevented by the state from streamlining to lower expenses, have little choice but to beat the bushes for new sources of cash.•

__________

To comment on this editorial, write to ibjedit@ibj.com.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. With Pence running the ship good luck with a new government building on the site. He does everything on the cheap except unnecessary roads line a new beltway( like we need that). Things like state of the art office buildings and light rail will never be seen as an asset to these types. They don't get that these are the things that help a city prosper.

  2. Does the $100,000,000,000 include salaries for members of Congress?

  3. "But that doesn't change how the piece plays to most of the people who will see it." If it stands out so little during the day as you seem to suggest maybe most of the people who actually see it will be those present when it is dark enough to experience its full effects.

  4. That's the mentality of most retail marketers. In this case Leo was asked to build the brand. HHG then had a bad sales quarter and rather than stay the course, now want to go back to the schlock that Zimmerman provides (at a considerable cut in price.) And while HHG salesmen are, by far, the pushiest salesmen I have ever experienced, I believe they are NOT paid on commission. But that doesn't mean they aren't trained to be aggressive.

  5. The reason HHG's sales team hits you from the moment you walk through the door is the same reason car salesmen do the same thing: Commission. HHG's folks are paid by commission they and need to hit sales targets or get cut, while BB does not. The sales figures are aggressive, so turnover rate is high. Electronics are the largest commission earners along with non-needed warranties, service plans etc, known in the industry as 'cheese'. The wholesale base price is listed on the cryptic price tag in the string of numbers near the bar code. Know how to decipher it and you get things at cost, with little to no commission to the sales persons. Whether or not this is fair, is more of a moral question than a financial one.

ADVERTISEMENT