On Tuesday the Milwaukee Common Council voted to increase parking meter fees in a move that will only deter more people from dining, shopping, and doing business at certain times and in certain parts of the city.
When I covered the Milwaukee County Board for many years at both WUWM and WTMJ there was a member named Gerald Engel (who died in 2016). I recall Engel kept one of those engraved nameplates on his desk that read:
“A Tax is a Tax is a Tax.”
Sad but true, that thought is lost on too many elected pols today.
And a fee is the “F word” for a tax.
Clearly the intent is to stick it to suburban motorists.
“A lot of the parking revenue is generated by non-Milwaukee residents, and that is the only way the city has to recoup some of the costs of providing infrastructure that is used by thousands of people who don’t live in the city and don’t pay property taxes here,” Milwaukee Alderman Robert Baumann said earlier this month.
Baumann added the following.
“And a substantial percentage of the net income, anywhere in the neighborhood of 15 to 18 million dollars a year, is transferred to the city’s general fund to offset property taxes.”
Milwaukee’s most famous mayor, Henry Maier would disagree.
During his toughest re-election campaign in 1980 Maier narrowly lost the primary to challenger Dennis Conta who argued for a tax on suburbanites who worked in the city of Milwaukee. Maier countered at the time that you do not reduce taxes by increasing other taxes.
Remember, a fee is a tax.
And even Anne Kim, Senior fellow at the lefty organization, The Progressive Policy Institute understands the danger of depending on tax and fee hikes, albeit from a liberal perspective. She writes on Governing.com:
Despite the short-term boosts civil and criminal fines and fees appear to bring, the long-term cost to cities, states and their residents is likely to be far greater.
Kim and I may not agree on why increased taxes and fees are a negative, but there’s something to smile about when she rips the practice as her lefty colleagues keep resorting to the same tired old playbook.