Friday, January 15, 2010

Government Fees Are Not Akin to Abusive Credit Card Fees

I must take issue with part of the December 31, 2009 column in the Leelanau Enterprise entitled “Credit card ‘abuses’ like government fees.” where the author attempts to equate abusive fees from the credit card companies to legitimate governmental "use" fees.

In particular, the writer’s comments about Land Use Permits in Kasson Township (Leelanau County, Michigan) contain implications and inaccuracies that may mislead the reader.

The implication is that $40 is a high fee for a Land Use Permit simply to build a deck. In actuality, the Zoning Administrator makes three on-site visits to every project to verify ordinance compliance. All permits cost $40 - for a small deck or a shopping center.  Please name for me any service provider who will make a house call for $40 for even one visit!

In this case, the "user" of the specific service pays the bill for his/her undertaking, and the cost is not spread to all taxpayers.

The complaint over an $80 fee for “digging a hole” is inaccurate in two ways. First, an additional $40 is not “interest”. The additional $40 is a penalty for commencing work without a permit which is a violation of the Township's Zoning Ordinance. Second, “sinking a hole” generally would not be considered commencement. Meaningful work, such as pouring footings, would trigger the $40 fine, according to my conversation with the Township's Zoning Administrator.

Land Use Permits are not about government soaking us for fees and fines. Obtaining a permit not only insures neighboring land owners the right to peaceable use of their own property but also catches potentially costly mistakes for the applicant.

The credit card “abuses” mentioned in the article relate to using other people’s money by borrowing – that’s called interest. Extra fees for Land Use Permits, relate to violating the law – that’s called a fine - the same as the fine you get while driving drunk or speeding.

No comments:

Post a Comment