Wednesday, March 12, 2008

user fees for police services

From Jim Waters at BIPPS,
a piece in the Heartland Institute's Budget and Tax News...

Erlanger, Kentucky Police Chief Marc Fields is torn.

He's concerned his city's recent decision to start collecting payment from out-of-town drivers at fault in traffic accidents will hurt his city's image. On the other hand, he's seen the numbers.

Of the 343 vehicle crashes in the city during November and December, 82 percent did not involve an Erlanger resident, according to an Associated Press analysis. Only 48 of the vehicles were carrying someone from the city....

The idea to start charging out-of-town vehicles came from the Erlanger City Council's Revenue Generation Committee, which proposed charging at-fault, out-of-town drivers $14 for the first 30 minutes an officer is at an accident scene, an additional $7 for every 15 additional minutes the officer remains, and $154 for requiring the use of a police car....

University of Louisville economist Paul Coomes says he understands the dilemma cities face, and he considers the approach being taken by Erlanger, albeit different from most cities, fairer than raising property taxes on residents.

"I look at this as a user fee tied to specific human behavior," Coomes said. "Unlike national defense or public education, which cannot be compartmentalized, this fee is along the same principle of a gas tax or a bridge toll--the more you use it, the more you pay."...

I agree with my friend Paul, but if you're going to do this, do it all the way. Extend the principle further: The one who is at fault in an accident should pay all such user fees-- and it shouldn't matter whether one is a resident of the county or not!


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