McConnors corner
Nickel and Diming Us To Death
By Sean McConnor
May 11, 2008 - 12:32:05 AM

There was time in America when people were being taxed to death and forced to pay fees and raised prices all the time; hence, the expression "nickel and dimed to death" came into being. Well thanks to the politicians of today, we are being "nickeled and dimed to death."

Every time you  turn around it is a new bond measure, a new fee, or a new tax levied upon us by politicians and their appointees who promise a better life if we would pay more.

For example, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Board of Directors wants to levy another half cent sales tax against everyone in LA County to pay for a subway to the sea (Downtown LA to the Pacific Ocean.)  I can see folks in the desert (Lancaster and Palmdale) jumping for joy at this this.

Right now, the MTA or trendy name, Metro, gets an half cent's sales tax. This accounts for 1.8 billion of their 3 billion dollar budget. In 1998, a ban was placed on this money being used for subway construction. Even if the ban were lifted, the money from this tax is already allocated, so it is back to the citizens to extract another half of a penny. (By the way, the new downtown to sea subway will cost 6.5 billion dollars of today's  dollars. No specific route has been selected, but it is not too early to nickel and dime us to death.)

Then there is the Mayor of L.A., Antonio Villaraigosa, who apparently has never met a fee or new tax that he didn't like. He wants to up the fees for parking, using the golf courses, getting your car  out of impound, and getting your trash picked up. The mayor says that the new trash fees will be used for new LAPD officers.

The "Los Angeles Times" reports that the addition of new officers is creating problems. Right now, the expansion is putting the city $75 million in debt and will cost $115 next year. The proposed trash fee, which will cost a single family household from $17 to $24, is not expected to cover the buildup. What next? A tax on breathing?

Finally, there is another group, the Board of Trustees for the Los Angeles Community College District, who are placing a 3.5 billion dollar bond measure on next November's ballot. This new bond would cost tax payers $20 per 100,000 assessed value of their property. This bond measure comes on the heels of two other bond measures that the voters approved for 2.2  billion which apparently wasn't enough to pay for the parking structures and athletic fields that the college has begun and not completed.

The Board says that the projects were not finished because the cost of materials has gone up and their were delays because the state would not give final approval for some of them without a lengthy review. Small wonder that the state was slow in agreeing to them. For example, does a commuter college which has mostly part-time students need a new athletic field?

So there we have it, on top of higher fuel costs, elevated food prices, and everything else, we have our wonderful leaders trying to "nickel and dime us to death." The more things change, the more they remain they same.

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