Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Here's a news release from the City of Raleigh:

City Council Approves Increase In Motor Vehicle Tax

The Raleigh City Council voted 7-1 today to raise the City’s motor vehicle fee to $25. The motor vehicle fee had been $20. The N.C. General Assembly voted to give the City of Raleigh the authority to raise the fee by $5. The extra revenue generated from the fee increase must be used for transportation purposes. The increase will result in an estimated $1.4 million a year for the City of Raleigh.

At least the PR folks got the terminology correct. It's a tax. Note how the City of Raleigh wants to call it a fee. Well, it feels so much better knowing it's only a $5 fee and not a $5 tax being taken out of my wallet.

Now here's Orwell personified:

The City of Raleigh PR folks announce
approval of the new budget:

City Council Approves Budget; No Property Tax Increase

The Raleigh City Council approved a budget for Fiscal Year 2007-2008 (FY08) that enhances services to a rapidly growing city while maintaining the ad valorem or property tax rate. The City’s fiscal year is from July 1 to June 30.

The vote was 4 to 3 with Council Members Philip Isley, Thomas Crowder and Tommy Craven voting in opposition. Council Member Russ Stephenson was unable to attend the meeting.

Note the headline doesn't mention all the fee increases included in the budget. They are buried further in the document:

A $2 per month increase in the solid waste fee to cover costs for additional staff and equipment needs needed to serve an increasing population, additional landfill and transfer station costs and to increase overall recovery costs. The City Manager projects that the fee increase would enable Solid Waste Services to recover approximately 68 percent of its costs in FY08 compared to 61 percent two years ago;
Nine (9) percent increases in the water and sewer rates. These increases are in keeping with the water and sewer rate model approved by the city council in FY2005 to fund a significant capital improvement program;

Thank you Raleigh for raising my fees and not my taxes. What a difference. The only difference is tax-deductibility.

One final note in the document:

A projected 5 percent increase in property tax revenues and a 6.4 percent increase in sales tax revenues, both primarily due to growth;

Anyone want to point that out to Russ Stephenson since he apparently wasn't there to vote on the budget. Growth increases revenue which can be used to pay for growth, that is if you don't spend
$16 million on downtown projects.

Plensa may not have been all that pretty. It did have one thing going for it - a willing private financier.