“No new taxes,” but fees and restrictions may apply

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Shiver me timbers -- Newsom's blasted fees for discharging a cannon are a rising!

The agenda for the June 29 Board of Supervisors meeting reads like the fine print of a credit card statement, with fees piled upon more fees.  Mayor Gavin Newsom is proposing a slew of increases to sums that must be forked over for a wide array of city services or permits as a way to bridge a gaping budget gap. With major cuts to critical services in the face of a dramatic revenue shortfall, it's not surprising that the city is tightening its squeeze to make up for some of the damage.

Some of the proposals make a certain amount of sense. There are higher fees proposed for an underground parking lot at Golden Gate Park, which could potentially help dissuade motorists and promote more environmentally friendly transportation options. There are higher fees for tow truck operators, which most anyone who’s ever involuntarily had their car towed could get behind. And the fee for discharging a cannon may go up from $400 to $636. While we’re pretty sure that last one is more likely to irk people who attend military ceremonies, we nonetheless take delight in imagining a rambunctious crew of pirates spilling into the board chambers to oppose it.

But this roster of Newsom’s new hidden fees begs an important question: Why is a mayor so adamantly against raising taxes bent on vacuuming more money out of the pockets of small business owners with higher fees? After all, many of these proposed increases will squeeze struggling, Mom-and-Pop businesses just a little tighter. City permits for auto wreckers, billiard parlors, junk dealers, and massage establishments may go up significantly. The fee for taking an EMT course may get higher. Permits for selling food on the street, driving a pedicab, dealing in second-hand auto parts, or operating a shooting gallery could also increase. Even the annual permit fee for street artists (several of whom we wrote about in our Streets Issue) is getting more expensive.
 
The list of fee hikes is on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, and was referred to the full board by the Budget & Finance Subcommittee. Supervisors recently proposed a number of new revenue generating measures including a nickel-per-drink tax on alcoholic beverages, an increase to the hotel tax, and a restructuring of the business payroll tax.

"There are no new taxes in this budget," Newsom declared during a June 1 announcement in which he unveiled his 2010-2011 budget. "I know some folks just prefer tax increases. I don't."

But why reject taxes outright and then quietly propose a bunch of fees that will place a higher burden on the individuals they impact?

“No new taxes” may sound like music to the ears of a public awash in financial woes, but Newsom’s hidden fees are not unlike taxes. Under this philosophy, it’s not desirable to ask everyone to pitch in an extra nickel the next time they buy a cocktail, but there’s no problem with asking the bar to fork over hundreds more annually for a health inspection. That doesn’t seem to be as simple as a campaign-ready “no new taxes” slogan, but then again, there’s a reason credit card companies bury their hidden fees in the fine print.

Comments

Rebecca

It is not logical to gloat that car towers will be fit with a fee, since that fee will simply be added to the cost of retrieving your vehicle.

Likewise those extra fees the bar owners will now pay will add a nickle to that cocktail anyway.

But we all have a choice as to whether we lark illegally or drink in bars, so fees can be avoided while taxes cannot.

Or I can visit a bar outside the City if it bothers me, in much the same way that people shop more in Colma when the city raises Sales Tax.

So I'll take the fees every time.

Posted by TomFoolery on Jun. 29, 2010 @ 2:47 am
Re:

Hi Tom,

Fair enough on your point about the tow trucks. But I disagree with your statement that "fees can be avoided while taxes cannot," especially when we're talking about proposed taxes on hotel stays or alcoholic beverage purchases. (I get why people bristle at the "sin tax" thing, but that's a separate issue.) Plus, if you're an antique shop owner, a caterer, or an auto wrecker who wants to stay in business, you can't very well avoid the higher fee for your required permit, can you?

Rebecca

Posted by rebecca on Jun. 29, 2010 @ 10:10 am

John Avalos is back again trying to harass us with an alcohol fee. Progressive thinking here is that he wants to use that money to mitigate the costs of the chronic drunks to the city.

The odd thing there is that the progressive invite these fuck ups to the city to use up services and when anyone suggests we stop paying for the habitually fucked up's life style the progressive goes into self righteous hysterics. The progressives love city services and then discover that these services cost money so they torment the citizens with more fees.

So I just think its odd that progressives try and fee us into submission and then complain that there are more fees.

Newsom is an idiot and is just doing what the progressive want, raising the cost of everything so that the progressives many pets don't have to suffer.

The progressive thought process

Newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom newsom

Posted by matlock on Jun. 29, 2010 @ 5:51 am

Rebecca,

It's true that while customers can often avoid these fees, businesses often cannot.

But then businesses either increase their prices to cover the fee, as you appear to concede, or they can relocate themselves just outside the City.

There are hotels around the airport that are (just) outside the City. Or all those motels in the East Bay close to the Bay Bridge.

Have you ever wondered why there is so much shopping and enterprise just outside SF e.g. Colma, Emeryville and Corte Madera? People will drive 10 miles to save a few bucks.

Or ask the store owners of Medford, Oregon, a State with no sales tax, about the number of shoppers they get from Northern California?

Or why so many people live just across the State line in Tahoe, where there is no State income tax.

And who doesn't love that internet retailers don't charge sales tax?

People will always try and duck fees and taxes. Ultimately the only thing you can't move outside the city is real estate.

Posted by TomFoolery on Jun. 29, 2010 @ 10:32 am