Doubling Expenses Through Fees
For this week’s Patch column, I took on Tiverton’s new Pay as You Throw (PAYT) garbage-bag fee:
Granted, of all of the factors contributing to this increase, the proximate end of the landfill’s usable life is among the most legitimate. Town leaders have spent decades inadequately preparing for the day that the dump was full – so much so that we’ll be shy of the $6.8 to 8.2 million needed to cap the dump around 2015 by between $2.4 and 3.8 million. That’s a real problem, and it still doesn’t include the costs of implementing another solution for Tiverton’s refuse. Moreover, the estimated $500,000 per year that the PAYT program is supposed to generate will still cover only half of the shortfall.
These are just the numbers, though. The point that has not been adequately considered is that the lack of preparation has not been caused by a refusal to raise taxes. This has been proven dramatically as the tax levy doubled over the last decade. In other words, the money that should have been saved in order to close the landfill was not given back to taxpayers; it was spent on other things, most significantly labor costs. Why, then, should the pain for this error be felt among those who’ve been forced to increase town revenue, these many years, rather than those who’ve benefited by the profligate spending?