.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Are the Wheels Coming Off the Richard Administration?

The City of Fort Wayne Board of Safety is recommending that city parking meter fees be doubled. However, at last week's meeting Carol Taylor, an assistant city attorney making the presentation didn't seem to present a very complete report. She told the board members that fees needed to be raised because the city parking enforcement was operating at a loss. She said that the loss would have to be covered by city general revenue.

She only counted as revenue the nickels, dimes and quarters collected from the meters.

However, WPTA/WISE-TV has reported that the revenue from parking fines as collected by the City Clerk's office more than covers the so-called deficit. Where does the revenue from fines go? It goes into the city's general revenues.

Would it be churlish to suggest that the Richard administration was leaving the impression at the meeting of the Safety Board that the 'deficit' was being paid out of general revenues composed of property tax, local option income tax and state property tax replacement monies?

This is the second time in as many weeks that the Graham Richard administration has demonstrated that fees in the City of Fort Wayne are considered just another revenue stream. Fees are usually defined as something that is related to the service provided; this is not the case with the Mayor's administration.

The week before last, the City Controller and Deputy Mayor went before the City Council to advocate that the city increase its property tax levy but even things out with taxpayers by lowering expenses to homeowners with a cut in the garbage collection "fee." Actually, a garbage fee that is so elastic that it can be raised or lowered freely is not related to the actual cost of garbage collection. It is a tax under the guise of a fee.

Indiana's News Center (WPTA/WISE) had the Richard administration admitting as much when it spoke with the City Controller's Office after the City Clerk's Office disputed the contention that the parking operation was not producing sufficient revenues. Jeff Neumeyer reported:
Fort Wayne City Clerk Sandy Kennedy is taking issue with the Mayor's office over claims that downtown parking meter fees need to be increased to keep from depleting the city budget.


At the Safety Board meeting Thursday afternoon, Associate City Attorney Carol Taylor argued the fee hike is necessary to keep the Parking Control Budget from losing money. "Right now, the fees raised by that department do not enable it to be economically self sufficient."

But the numbers for 2005 suggest a different story. We (WPTA/WISE) contacted the City Clerk's Office, they tell us the City is already taking in more money than it's spending in the Parking Control and Enforcement area.

When you add fines paid on parking meter violations to meter collections, the City took in $156,000.00 more than the allotted Parking Control Budget.


The Mayor's spokesperson, John Perlich, concedes this is about raising more revenue. "The Controller's Office is doing an evaluation of each and every department to see where, in tough budget times, where we can find additional revenue to improve services for residents." Perlich said.
The City Council will be taking up the recommendation for doubling the fees in the next month. The proposal is unlikely to meet a warm reception. The Council has already defeated the "permanently higher property taxes for the temporary cut in garbage fees swap" proposal. (Congressional hopeful and City Council Member Tom Hayhurst was conspicuously absent for the vote).

The Journal-Gazette stated this morning that Council Member Tom Smith is somewhat miffed about a delayed report on the amounts paid for professional services by the adminstration. The report was requested while Smith was Council President.

Mayor Richard has delivered at least two out-of-town speeches recently. He may wish to think about sticking closer to home to get the adminstration back on track before the year gets much older.

More: Link to Indiana's News Center Video here.
More: Indiana Parley's original post regarding the parking increase here.
More: February 6, 2006 News-Sentinel editorial

Maybe the Mayor could talk to Gov Daniels and together they could figure out how to sell something like the toll road. Let me see the Republicans have increased fees at every state park any Natural Resource license and licenses plate oh that was just a tack on and only Mayor Richard considers feesa an income source. Hipocrisy no not any more than your fight for free speech. shame on you.
Oh Captain, My Captain-

I believe you are missing the point of this weblog and, in turn, missing an opportunity.

Indiana Parley is intended as a place for discussion. If you have a point of view on state fee increases then you ought to marshal your facts, draft your riff on state government, and post it in the comments section.

Sharp commentary is welcome. Dissenting views will be heard. If the comment raises particularly good points that can lead to further discussion, it will be copied, highlighted and placed on the weblog as a full post.

Get out the dictionary and look up the definition of the word "parley." You'll get a pretty good idea of the intentions for this weblog.

Tell the readers here how you believe the toll road lease is related to the Fort Wayne fee increases.

I encourage you and others to write about the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). It is an under-covered area.

Having said that, I am not sure that you are on firm ground in comparing the fees charged for camping and entry to IDNR properties to the City of Fort Wayne meter proposal. What the two issues have in common is that both sets of fees are increases.

Howevever, the point to the original post is that fees should bear a reasonable relationship to the cost of the service provided.

The fees charged by the Dept. of Natural Resources go to the operational costs of state park and recreational facilities. Those fees do not entirely cover the costs of INDR recreational facilities.

However, there are some good issues there that would be ripe for discussion. Those questions include: whether such fee increases are discouraging or cost-prohibitive to lower-income Hoosiers; whether Indiana is devoting enough resources to the upkeep and operation of such facilities; and, whether the differential fees being implemented for camping are a useful tool or will be an ineffectual change.

The use of fees to generate general revenue is one that cuts across all governmental entities. One example is that many states have professional and occupational licensing and registration fees that are in excess of the state's costs in administering the regulatory function.

Indiana has done much to tackle that problem with consolidating those functions of licensing in the past decade. Other states have not.

There are many other examples in federal, state and local governments in areas other than licensing fees. It requires ongoing vigilance.

So, these are all interesting things - and they can all be discussed without seeing everything through a partisan prism as you seem to do.
I also have trouble with the "fees as revenue streams" concept. One of the ones that really irked me came during the Helmke administration (back around 1992, I think). Garbage collection was made a separate item, with all of us getting bills for it. But the money that had been in the budget for garbage collection was just kept there, which amounted to a stealth tax increase of between $3 and $4 million a year.
For the record- Neumeyer is very interested in RATINGS- so his story is not entirely accurate.

Sandy Kennedy is NOT "taking issue" with the Mayors position. Neumeyer was- He really needs to get his fact straight!

It would appear that Jeff Neumeyer may have been inaccurate in his characterization of Sandy Kennedy.

However, isn't the fact that Sandy Kennedy's office has released much more complete information than the assistant city attorney presented accurate?
Kennedy's report adds a whole new dimension to the "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" concept. It's more like Paul getting a credit line increase on his own Mastercard to facilitate a cash advance to deposit in his checking account, simply to pay his Mastercard bill. Ooof, that just made my head spin.
Post a Comment

<< Home