Sat Nov 13 15:58:44 PST 2010
What's The Alternative To The User Fee?
And will the public like those alternatives any better than they like the fee itself?
Let's just...for the sake of arguement...say that Parkersburg City Council does an "about face" and votes down the proposed user fee, which has been reduced to $2.50 from $3.00?
I wouldn't be surprised if that happens. After all, I haven't found very many people who like it.
But what then?
People I've talked to say they prefer cuts or reductions in the city budget from what, to them, amounts to a tax that cuts into their own budgets.
Consider this, however: we are a very diverse population, and I don't mean racially or ethnically. We have different needs, and in many instances, demand different services (even if it's from a government with less money than it used to have). I've found that there isn't often a "one size fits all" when it comes to government services.
You propose to cut the library budget, and people who use libraries complain about the shorter hours and diminished services. You propose to cut mental health services, and you get the same kind of protests. (I admit this is on the federal or state, not the city government level, but the idea is the same.)
There are some departments whose services matter to everyone, such as the police and fire departments. But if the Parkersburg Police Department, say, decides to close down its satellite location at City Park, I'll bet people who live near that area will protest.
A large part of the $2.5 Million defecit Parkersburg officials predict is due to the announcement in September that Camden-Clark and St. Joseph's Hospital would combine operations, resulting in one non-profit regional medical center. (That deal, according to recent reports, is still being worked out, but no one disputes it will eventually happen.)
I remember back in 1997, shortly after St. Joseph's became a "for-profit" hospital, after its sale to Columbia/HCA, that hospital officials came to city council, proclaiming that the new ownership meant the hospital would be paying taxes to the city. Those apparently are the tax revenues which will now be gone with the two hospitals (Camden-Clark has been non-profit) joining West Virginia's United Health system.
There's a lesson we all should have known then, and should learn now, from that late '90's "booming economy" era...the same philosophy as the law of gravity:
What goes up, must come down.