Everywhere you turn, it seems like someone’s always trying to nickel and dime you.
Nickel and dimed: That’s life in the great recession.
Middle-aged Americans will probably not be telling their grandchildren about how they had to save every scrap of food, every reusable piece of plastic or metal or wood, or about how they woke up every day at 4 a.m. to walk to the docks in search of even an hour or two of work.
Nope. Their tale will be about greedy banks, foreclosures, warring, rabid, empty politicians and . . . getting constantly nickel and dimed out of what little money they did happen to earn.
If it’s not at the bank — fees, fees, fees. Or at the pump — please, please, please. Or at work — jeez, jeez, jeez. It’s increasingly by our own government, whose coffers are dwindling faster than the new fees and taxes they keep thinking up can possibly refill them.
The county budget deficit projected for next year is $2.7 million. The town, of course, is likely set to have some difficulties as well — it barely escaped a deficit last year. The school district is losing money, too — students are leaving because their parents can’t find work, and property tax collections are falling with the value of homes, a ripple effect of the housing bust likely to plague the area for years to come.
Just this week we reported how the number of parcels up for auction next week by the county treasurer’s office was almost twice what they were in 2011, a sign more people are just walking away from their land rather than pay the taxes on it.
All this amounts to a climate where the only way to continue on without drastic cuts in service is to raise some sort of revenue, either through new taxes or fees.
Funny thing about taxes and fees, they’re like weeds. Once they’re in your yard, they’re hard to get rid of.
At the county level the latest fee discussion has centered around funding animal control and the animal shelter. Voters will decide in November whether they want to pay a $20 parcel fee to fund those services.
What’s the alternative? Packs of wild dogs taking over the area past Bell Vista? Or, no, maybe giving over animal control to a politically connected friend of the community. None of those are very wise, but clearly something must be done, or so the fee would have you believe.
The water district wanted the county to levy a fee last year, $8 a parcel. The county balked and the water district simply levied their own $5 fee anyway. Thank you very much!
See, the thing with fees is that you never know what exactly you’re buying either. And unlike other purchases, fees are usually non-refundable, and often levied with costly penalties or even liens for those who refuse to pay.
The county’s not the only place new fees are likely to crop up. The town, too, has caught some flak lately over fees. The Pahrump Town Board unanimously voted recently to charge groups $10 an hour or $50 a day to use the Bob Ruud Community Center during regular business hours. Off hours are double that rate, and that’s just for the rooms A and B. The main hall is $20 an hour, $100 a day or double that outside normal business hours. The entire center can be had for $40 an hour or $150 for the day, or double outside of normal business hours.
These are new fees that didn’t exist several weeks ago. It used to cost a flat $25 for the little rooms and $50 for the big room. That’s it. The new fees are meant to cover the costs of the new roof on the building and other renovations. Sure, they’re not that expensive. But, they are a bit pesky, if you don’t mind us saying. And when that new roof is paid for? Don’t hold you breath on it.
Another unanimous vote recently by the town allowed the garbage collector, Pahrump Valley Disposal, to raise its rates just a bit — to offset the cost of high diesel prices, of course. Not a big deal. But just a little pesky — the company did the same thing the year before. Maybe there should just be an annual increase (okay, bad idea!)
Finally, as if the town board has any business even sticking their less-than-qualified-enough noses into local gaming, Harley Kulkin was set to propose a half-percent tax on Pahrump gaming revenue. The measure was not meant to buttress any town revenue shortfall, which would make sense since he’s a town board member. No, this was a proposal meant to help the school district.
While Harley’s heart is in the right place, his brain may not be. Luckily, the measure was removed from the agenda before its introduction caused widespread panic, or over-the-top ridicule.
Taxes and fees, at least those mentioned above aren’t huge, earth-shaking government missteps. Very likely many of them are prudent. Our gut tells us, however, that this is just the beginning.
Prudence is about to fall by the wayside. Or maybe they’ll slap a fee on prudence, too.