Wednesday, November 10, 2010
We had to know it was only a matter of time before someone in Yakima County thought it a good idea to assess $20 fees on car license tabs.
Ever since the state legislature gave it a green light a few years ago, the $20 fee has been dangling over us like stale mistletoe.
Remember voters made it loud and clear they wanted $30 license tabs, not the hundreds of dollars many people paid out for each car, each year until I-795 came along.
Yakima County thought about imposing the $20 additional fee, but held a public vote to see what residents thought. The result, as we know, was resoundingly against the $20 fee.
Now Mabton and Grandview are looking to impose the $20 fee on each vehicle their citizens own.
Thanks to Olympia, the cities will be able to do so without a vote of the people.
By my count, that means license tab fees in those cities will be somewhere around $60 each year for each vehicle, double what voters approved.
I can only imagine Sunnyside city government is giving a long look to the $20 fee. After all this is the city hall that gives us four-day work weeks so I'm sure it will take any short cut available.
The money is to benefit transportation needs, especially road repairs.
Maintaining our roadways is important, I fully agree, but if area cities really want to keep the roads up approach the voters about it.
Let the public decide on a bond to keep the roads up. Present your case, do your best homework. Don't short-circuit the will of the people, the vote of the people, who twice have said a big no to big license tab fees.
Meanwhile, cities, ask more of your employees in the form of contributing to their insurance benefits and taking a furlough day now and then. We in the private sector are doing both, how about it government?
Even small steps towards furloughs and paying a portion of insurance benefits would be a help.
Think about it.
If Grandview's 50 or so employees, for example, each took six furlough days a year that would be 300 days total without pay.
If Grandview employees average $200 a day in pay - a conservative estimate - that would mean an annual savings of $60,000!
If each Grandview employee followed their managers' example and paid $100 a month toward their employee benefits - valued at about $10,000 or more each year - that would be another $60,000 per year in savings.
Add it together and it represents $120,000 a year in the bank!
Even more amazing: if Sunnyside's 100 or so employees took the same steps it would represent an incredible savings of $240,000 each year!
What really stings is that some of the employees with these great benefits and salaries don't live in the cities they work for.
Sunnyside is a prime example.
As a result, out-of-town employees won't have to pay the license tab fees our city governments are looking to push on us.
Keep tabs on the tab fee issue, Lower Valley residents.
Let's push our governments to be more creative and accountable in coming up with a true solution to road maintenance.
Now that's a tab I'd be willing to help pay.