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July 2, 2012

Taxing The Many for The Few

Jill King

Media sources recently announced that the taxpayers are up and moving away from Baltimore City. Is it because they are creating more taxes to increase revenue, costing those who pay to send more of their income to the city?


Recent news has placed Stockton, CA, on the watch list for bankruptcy due to overwhelming debt.


How can a city attract small business, or a taxpayer base, if there is pandering going on to everyone who puts in a request?


Frederick City is spending millions on creating bicycle paths. Although some find bicycle paths to be a great venture for many citizens, it does not pay for itself.


Like the dog park, or the city owned golf course, this is only for a small group of people whether they pay into the tax base or not.


The few that use the current bicycle path on Seventh Street do not make up for the costs incurred to all city taxpayers, yet the aldermen voted 4-1 to add more lanes to the path, spending millions more to satisfy a minute population.


Driving anywhere in the City of Frederick, you can see bicyclist out riding for a number of reasons. Some use them to get to work, or school, while others use them for exercise.


We can always tell the more experienced riders, as they typically abide by the rules of the road, safety demands, and are clad in the most up to date bicycle gear and clothing.


Less experienced riders and children tend to lack knowledge of safety, rules of the road, and some are known to ride in dark clothing without any reflectors or lights after sundown; most do not wear a helmet.


An ad hoc committee was formed by bicycle enthusiasts in the city to advise and educate others, but they lack one thing – a mechanism to create revenue.


This isn’t about a winner and a loser; it is about the perception that it is a free and needed service. First of all, nothing provided by the government is free; there is no reason that it cannot come up with a plan to develop a commission for revenue.


The argument for bicyclists is that they pay taxes, too. Yes, that is true, but many of them also drive cars. For the ones who don’t, maybe if they understood that the regulations – including licensing and tag service – are instituted to pay for roads; with bicycles, we have no such requirement.


The city has added speed cameras to existing red light cameras, which only tag drivers of vehicles that have a license plate displayed. How many people are caught by those cameras who bicycle through or who are riding a scooter though? Right now the answer is none; so there is no reason for people with these modes of transportation to be held accountable.


As for mopeds, the regulation for having them tagged, titled, insured, with helmets required went into effect yesterday, mandated by the state. It would be interesting to see if the city follows suit in the name of “safety” or if this group will be sheltered due to Mayor Randy McClement’s and Alderman Kelly Russell’s involvement in local bicycle fundraisers and clubs.


It is true; the City of Frederick goes well out of its way to support minority efforts at the majority’s expense. The new layer of taxation for bicycle paths just adds to the amounts that all will pay.


The city constantly creates a budget that shows a balance in the expenses versus revenue. The bicycle paths will only show on one side, like the dog park; there is no revenue enhancement from these items to balance the budget.


The city created a Frederick History Bike Loop. This course does not involve the new bicycle paths that are being constructed. Yet bicyclists are encouraged to use this for gaining historical knowledge of the city. This is fine. But how in the world are these people riding on streets, without the city spending money on bike paths?


How much would it cost to create a bike path on every street downtown? This is what we must think about as we move forward. If the city representatives want to increase our taxes to support a small minority, of people, who are not using the current paths, why should we continue to spend money with no way to balance the budget?


In supporting a minority, the majority will always pay, which takes money out of support for local businesses. If the city wants to actually create change, it will become a host for balanceable items, not pandering to a group who want their own needs to be met at a cost to others.


The failed revenue sources on top of this includes Clustered Spires Golf Course, the Bentz Street Dog Park, other public parks and sports activities through a number of sources and more.


The City of Frederick now looks to take on the responsibility of a hotel/conference center, with the aid of the taxation at the state level. When this is created, we will have state taxpayers paying for what may work or may be a failed venture, that many of us will not even step foot in.


If a privately-owned business won’t entertain the idea, why would the public sector spend tax money to do it?


For some reason, it has become the concept for municipal government to host groups that put in a request. Maybe the new standard should be to limit the size and scale to what is necessary for everyone. This, in turn, puts more money back in the pockets of the people, aiding a thriving free market.


We now need to stick to the basic principles and remove the word “free” from the government’s and the public’s vocabulary. If it is coming from the government, it is never free; someone is paying for it.


What will happen when the taxpayers start moving out of Frederick City and find a home where less money is needed by the local government? Does this sound like something that the citizens of Stockton, CA, could have faced?


Retraining my brain for the future, conferring with my past…


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