Village’s fee needs defined

Published 10:31 am Thursday, October 21, 2010

Village of Coal Grove officials have adopted a municipal fee that basically says residents will help with its financial problems — whether they like it or not.

What the elected officials haven’t said is exactly how all this money will be used and how long residents will be on the hook.

This $5 per month fee has several flaws but perhaps none more concerning than the fact that this — like Ironton’s and other fees of this type — is essentially a back-door tax and violates the spirit of the law intended to restrict out-of-control taxation without a vote of the people.

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In Coal Grove, officials have asked residents repeatedly to approve a property tax levy to pay for infrastructure and operations of the village.

Each time voters answered with a resounding answer: No.

Although we are supportive of the overall concept of investing in the village’s infrastructure and water system, the problem lies in the details of this fee.

This fee has no expiration date and it was said it would come off when certain debt is retired. That is not good enough for taxpayers.

The reality is that fees without finite ending dates rarely ever go away.

Also the language in the law is so vague that it essentially opens the door for the village to spend these funds on anything it chooses.

That is a problem as well because property owners and residents who pay their water bill deserve to know exactly how the money will be spent.

The village may need the money, and this may be the only solution to keep the government solvent, but it has been accomplished the wrong way.

Citizens didn’t get the chance to vote on this but they will have a chance to make their voices heard.