Living Here

Of all the sources of government revenue, collecting user fees seems to make the most sense, because government officials collect the money from those people who actually benefit from the services provided.
A good example of state and federal government user fees at work is the tax charged on gasoline supplies. This money is collected to pay for road repair and improvements. Another example would be the taxes applied to airline tickets where the money collected is used to pay for security and air traffic controllers. Locally, (or at least in the past) lake front fees (beach fees, buoys and pier leases) have paid for the maintenance of the lakefront, while parking meter fees have paid for parking costs. Fifty percent of the fees collected have gone to costs associated with additional costs related to the influx of more tourists.

However, there is a problem with this user fee approach in taxation. Governments, federal, state and local do not keep the money segregated over time, but instead co-mingling much of the fee-based revenue. By doing this the leadership dissociates the justification for the fee or tax from its real use. Just as the road tax revenue is not entirely used to repair roads, the lake front fees are not all used to maintain the lake front, etc. Almost all governments co-mingle these sources of revenue, and Lake Geneva is no different. The real purpose of why this disassociation from the intended collection purpose takes place is so that the governmental body can collect money supposedly justified for one purpose and spend it on something else.

It’s like an organization that might collect money for cancer research and then spend it on building parks. Both causes may be good causes, but doing business this way would be a nasty form of deception. No organization known really collects money for cancer and uses it to build parks, but local governments do collect gas taxes to fix roads, and use the money for other purposes all the time. In addition to the blatant deception, this practice disassociates those who benefit from the spending from those who pay for it. When those who receive the benefits are dissociated from those who pay for it, then they lose empathy and concern for each other and hostility can develop between the two groups. When the government engages in co-mingling of funds, it changes what could have been an appreciation for what government does with the money it receives, into a feeling of resentment about what it does.

Co-mingling of funds enables governments to muddy the traceability of the revenue, and the accountability of its use, behind a vail of financial fog. Money collected becomes like a deck of cards. The funds are easy to verify, follow and know about when the ‘deck’ is kept in order, but, once the ‘cards’ have been shuffled, the traceability and accountability of each card (or amount of fee money collected) is lost.   Fee money must be isolated for fee-based expenses to be paid, and the public must become upset and disturbed when such exacting accounting is not done.

 

Flight for Life Helicopter

Flight for Life Helicopter

Flight for Life’s BK117 German/Japanese helicopter flying a mission. What a HUGE different 75 years make!

 

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