A fee or a tax?
To the Editor:
I received in the mail last week the city of Bonner Springs' presentation on the proposed storm-water control fee, now being considered by the City Council. There will be a public hearing on Jan. 14 at City Hall. The proposed fee is $2.50 per month residential and $5 per month industrial/commercial.
I did not call the city for the exact number of water meters, so I am estimating that there are 2,500 residential meters and 200 business meters in the city. These numbers may be low. At the rate of $2.50 and $5, the monthly receipts on this fee would be $7,250 or $87,000 annually. If the fee does not increase, over a 10-year period, the total is $870,000. It will be more if the number of meters increases.
The purpose of the fee is to control storm-water runoff in the city. But in the pamphlet the city states that the proceeds will be used for 1. Street repair and maintenance. 2. Public education regarding flooding and pollution. 3. Public outreach (?) regarding flooding and pollution. 4. Regional detention ponds that might be used for recreational purposes (by regional, I'm assuming these might be outside the city.). 5. Improved water quality programs (from the city water to pollution control in area creeks and ponds, and 6. Creek and floodplain maintenance. This is pretty open-ended wording.
The above purposes for use of the fee are all well and good. But the dollars involved are large in amount, and the wide possible uses appear to give cause for the future increases of the fee. Finally and politically, the city is wise to present this proposal to the citizens in the form of a fee, not a tax. The feed does not require a citywide vote. A tax proposal would require a vote by the citizens. I am not against the storm-water proposal. But is it a fee - or a tax? If it is a tax, then let up put it to the voters on the next general election, which would put any future increase in the fee in the hands of the voters.