Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Enough is enough

City officials in Washington are still trying to bail out the Titanic with a teacup, and it would seem that if there's any light at the end of this tunnel of fiscal misery, it's from a big, fast-moving train called reality. The approach of elected officials has been an incremental one, including the current move to bludgeon people who park in the city. Council is now discussing a plan under which the price of parking at a metered space would increase from 25 cents for 30 minutes to 25 cents for 15 minutes. On top of that, the city is contemplating a $10 fine for overtime parking, and they'd give violators just two hours to pay that fine before it doubled to $20. And you couldn't even put the $10 fine in one of the courtesy boxes. The fine would have to be paid at the city parking authority office. To say this is onerous is an understatement. And it continues. After five days, the fine rises to $30; after 15 days, it goes to $50. But wait, there's more. The city also is considering a tax - perhaps as much as $3 per space, per day - on all for-profit parking garages and lots in the city, including the Trust Building garage and the one owned by Washington County. Owners of those lots and garages would have to register with the city treasurer as a tax collector and keep strict records of all the taxes taken in. The city already is dunning people who work in Washington with an earned income tax, and that is expected to increase this year. What all this means is that Washington is financially raping people who work or do business in the city, in order to avoiding raising taxes on those who actually live in Washington (also known as voters). But they can't even accomplish that, because now there's talk of raising property taxes in order to make up for a $400,000 shortfall in revenue from the current year. And who is to blame for that shortfall? That would be council and the mayor. They are the ones who approved a budget that included ridiculous revenue projections. For example, the current year's budget called for $220,000 to be generated through building permits. The city has taken in less than $85,000 so far. The city also has fallen $100,000 short of its projections in business privilege taxes. These are not minor mistakes. They amount to borderline fiscal malfeasance and abuse of the public trust. In other words, the city is being led by incompetents. They can continue bending over the people who work in the city, because they're captive victims. But what this situation calls for is bold moves, ones that most likely would anger the very people who get to vote on whether current council members and the mayor get to stay in office. But true leaders do the right thing, not the politically expedient thing. And don't let it be said that I'm criticizing them without offering my own answers. First, eliminate any non-essential services and cut the work force to the lowest possible level in order to meet essential services such as tax collection and snow removal. Second, eliminate any non-required financial outlays. For example, if the city makes an annual payment to Citizens Library, that should stop. Libraries are a wonderful resource, but they are not essential when a city is going into the toilet. Finally, eliminate the paid fire department. You could retain a couple of paid firefighters and supplement them with volunteers. The time for half-assed, piecemeal fixes is over. Either make bold moves, or let the state come in and take control.

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Blogger Lori said...

And that, my friend, is the biggest reason we are not PA residents.

I don't pay for parking (at all), I don't pay to ride the city transit system and I still get to have a fully functioning library, I feel my taxes are reasonable. If Oak Harbor Washington can do it, there must be a great deal of waste in every department of the government in Washington PA. To want to charge that kind of money is an outrage. No wonder the city was looking like a small ghost town last I visited.
Protesters Unite!

December 9, 2009 at 1:04 PM  
Anonymous x anonymous said...

I don't know if it matters, but I went to the city website. It seems to me that all the elected people have D's next to their names.

I thought this was change you could believe in?

Take from the working poor to give to the nonworkers! Obama is doing it at a grand level and I haven't heard you b*%#* about one time.

I don't think you're tired of it yet. FOUR MORE YEARS!!!! Give it all away!!!

December 9, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

I remember when I worked at the Long John Silver's at what was then the Franklin Mall. I was a naive young high school kid new to employment and taxes. I understood income tax, but the tax I paid that essentially was for the "privilege of working in Washington" (I lived in Taylorstown) was lost on me. It still is.

It sounds like the city council and mayor up there are as big a bunch of pitiful, short-sighted, stupid glandhanders as they are here in Richmond. Richmond goes after parking violators with a fervor that makes the Spanish Inquisition look like a door-to-door poll. That is IF you can find a place to park. Or a place to park that you can afford.
And yet the leaders here don't understand why no one comes downtown to spend any money shopping or dining.

While our parking laws aren't enforced with such unreasonable and immediate financial penalties, your car WILL be towed within hours of getting a ticket. And woe be unto the vehicles that are in front of and behind the vehicle being towed because the tow truck will get that car out of there no matter what. What's a bent bumper or a smashed grill to them? They must rid the streets of the scofflaws who park ten minutes longer than they paid for. Got to get them off the street post haste!

I moved from Washington County 26 years ago. Downtown was dying then. It looks like the last few nails are going into the coffin now.

December 9, 2009 at 2:48 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Pri, loved the Spanish Inquisition reference. X, maybe you've missed it, but I am hugely in favor of rooting out waste and misguided spending at all levels of government, no matter what letter follows an elected official's name. If you want to discuss a specific issue in regards to spending, rather than using the "Obama socialist" card, I'd be glad to discuss it.

December 9, 2009 at 3:42 PM  
Anonymous x anonymous said...

Sure! Spending... Obama has out spent every other president in the history of the United States of America combined! In what, 10 mths?

Does he get a pass?

December 9, 2009 at 8:02 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Remember when I said specific? What specific spending are we discussing? When you just say spending, you're talking about the entire federal budget.

December 9, 2009 at 8:27 PM  
Anonymous x said...

you're talking about the entire federal budget.



This should be easy right?

ALL OF THEM. 233 years worth, even GW.

December 9, 2009 at 11:35 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Obama might have raised the national debt more than all other presidents combined, but he has not spent more than all combined. That's just false. And if there's no specific part of the budget you'd like to debate, we really have nothing to talk about.

December 10, 2009 at 7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why does a discussion of wash pa's problems have to turn into more criticism of Pres. Obama. Please get back on topic.

December 10, 2009 at 8:30 AM  
Blogger PRIguy said...

x anonymous, I am a ardent Obama hater, but to say that he's outspent the combined spending of every president we've ever had COMBINED is just a mindless, stupid comment. I honestly don't think it's even possible to spend that amount of money in the short time he's been in office. Give him time...he might end up doing it, but as yet he hasn't. Think before you attack...Brant is a formidable foe in an argument.

December 10, 2009 at 9:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This city is headed for bankruptcy. That's pretty clear to me. If the state takes over, that's when the only meaningful steps will be taken to end the city's fiscal problems.

But there is also another problem all cities have, the exclusion of churches, colleges and hopsital to pay taxes. Everytime a lot is bought by one of these entities, it comes off the tax rolls. The city of Washington draws taxes from about 45 percent of the lots in town because the others are tax-exempt.

It makes absolutely no sense to me. But you can thank your local legislators for making it possible, no matter what letter is in front of their names.

December 10, 2009 at 9:59 AM  
Anonymous bad_alibi said...

the 200 billion that was "left over" from the stimulus package, Obama wants to throw it at jobs.

Did we go down this road already? Didn't Obama promise unemployment wouldn't be above 8.5 we would just pass the stimulus package with reading it?

Take that 200 billion and give it to the city of little Worshington. So the people that work in little Worshington, don't have to pay for parking! Maybe we can throw in some gas money for youns? I think if you work in the city of little Worshington, you ought to be grateful that you get to park on a clean city street. Think about other people in the county that might have to park at the pitmouth of a coal mine everyday. Damn that parking fee doens't seem to bad, I mean every other city has parking fees.

Maybe they should raise high parking fees, along with really high gas taxes, with really high, co2 taxes.That can go with cap and trade and health care tax. This is change you can believe in! For the greater of the city of course. Then build a nice rail shuttle that flys all over city, kinda like WVU shuttle. I wish we could pay 65% tax rates!

December 10, 2009 at 11:24 AM  
Blogger Lori said...

I just checked my mortgage info. I have a $ 197,000 mortgage. I pay $114 in taxes per month. That covers my free parking, free library, free transit, free public schooling and everything else this tax needs to cover. We don't have income tax here in WA State. Retail tax is a little high at 8.5% but not unreasonable considering all the services we have access to.
The transit company said it was not cost effective or safe to have drivers handle money so they added it to the tax base. To be fair, most of us that have houses and pay taxes also have cars and don't take advantage of the free transportation. But, when my children were teens they got themselves around without asking mom. so I got my money's worth.
I wish I had a solution to WA PA's troubles.
How do you scrap the whole mess and start over?

December 10, 2009 at 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Liberal Agenda said...

It's the liberal agenda. Take away from the ones that work and give to the people that only have county, state, federal jobs and welfare.

Don't you know your new coal mine, or steele plant is the jails, prison and the county court systems? We all work for the man.

Wait till they pass the cap and trade bill or the Obamacare. You think you are taxed now!!

I want everyone to make a New Years Resolution, every time you buy something, write down how much in taxes you paid, save the grand total for 2011.

December 10, 2009 at 3:39 PM  
Anonymous K.Fort said...

Some people can't afford to go to town. Myself, when i'm trying to find a parking spot around 9-9:30 am, to find out most spots are filled with junks that shouldn't even be on the road! I say tow them, tax them, impound them! Keep the rift raft from behind the wheel. That 1989 Honda owner, doesn't even have insurance.

BUT! If the city is needing to generate cash, it needs to look into waste! All those high performance police cars should be sold! All across America this should happen. 90% of the police force should be driving hybirds! The savings in fuel! WOW. Stop letting the officers take squad cars home. Rotate cars with shift change. Also start drug testing the officers. Who wants to pay for a druggies retirement!? All county and city workers should be tested!

December 14, 2009 at 10:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Washington PA was in trouble before Obama and it will be in trouble long after he has left the White House. Anyone care to tag Bushie for what Washington PA might be like today if we hadn't been stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last nine years? Let's apply speulation equally.

December 14, 2009 at 5:04 PM  
Anonymous think said...

wonder what washington pa would look like if bushie done nothing.

December 19, 2009 at 6:16 PM  
Blogger theywilltakeyourlastpenny said...

I've found articles on the Internet from the "OR" 09/22/2006, page B1 by Christie Campbell that stated Washington City Council took action to apply for a matching $500,000 grant for a $1.6 million amphitheater during a special meeting. The 500-seat amphitheater was to be located in front of the seven-story Nationwide Centre, that was currently under construction then according to the article!

Then in March 21, 2007 in another article by Michael Bradwell in the "OR" stated Lucas Piatt, said in part, "An outdoor amphitheater which can accommodate up to 500 people is "under construction" behind the LandAmerica Building.......strange I haven't seen any construction since 2007 on an amphitheater in front of or behind that pratically empty building that looks ugly on the corner of Beau street there.

My question would be (?) did the City of Washington ever apply for that grant towards the construction of the amphitheater and if they did was it recieved???

Does anyone find it strange that our former Mayor Westcott is now employeed by Piatt???????? What ever happened to this grand project that Washington was suppose to have constructed by Millcraft. (Crossroads) Other then viewing the ugly under half occupied building and a parking garage that the city can't afford I haven't seen anything else many taxdollars was wasted on that mess? & now the City of Washington wants everyone to pay for their nonsense. No thanks I will shop the area malls!

December 20, 2009 at 10:49 AM  

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