Friday, February 23, 2007

Misleading Mailer II

Another mailer has been sent out. This one is not anonymous, but it is no more accurate in its twisting of the facts. It alleges that I want to implement a new tax for garbage collection.

This is not true. I do not want to raise taxes for garbage collection. I have consistently said that taxes are not the best way to finance trash collection.

It goes against my nature to respond to unfounded charges. These attacks, and the people who send them, don’t deserve a response. But you do, and I feel it is important that someone looking for answers is able to find them here.

Again, the mailer takes liberties with statements I made as City Auditor. This particular charge traces its roots to a 1999 budget review of the city’s fees, charges and taxes.

Overall, I found and reported that Kansas City taxpayers were highly taxed, and the tax burden wasn’t fairly borne by individuals and businesses, some of whom enjoyed significant tax breaks at the expense of others. As Mayor, I intend to study the tax system further with the goal of making it fair.

As part of that report, I discovered that most big cities in the United States charge their businesses and citizens for trash collection based on the amount of garbage they generate. This is the norm, and it is the system recommended as well by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. It encourages recycling and discourages excess waste.

That wasn’t the system we had here at the time, and it unfairly spread the significant expense of trash collection equally to all tax payers, whether they were single retirees who seldom had more than one bag at the curb or large families or businesses that generated many bags each week.

What I proposed, and still support, was a trash fee based on how much garbage each household generates. I said the city would save, conservatively, $2 million a year, in part from an expected 20 percent decrease in garbage collected as people recycled more and were more thoughtful about what they put at the curb.

A version of my recommendation became the City Council-approved, two-bag-a-week system now in place. And it has saved the city, and therefore the taxpayers, money without, I might add, raising taxes.

No comments: