Thursday, July 17, 2014

Taken for a Ride

I'll preface this by saying I have no standing here.  I neither live nor work in the city of Scranton.

City council plans to introduce a commuter tax at tonight's meeting.  It's a tax on people who work in the city, but who live elsewhere.  It's an effort to help dig the city out of its massive and ineptitude induced debt.

Proponents claim commuters place a burden on city resources and services.  Our friends at the Times~Tribune nailed it when they said, in an editorial, that services are geared toward residents.  Employers already help the city by paying business and real estate taxes.  Commuters are the ones eating at city restaurants and shopping at city stores (the few stores left).

I paid the last commuter tax when I was working in Scranton.  I would have smiled and have been happy to help at the time, but I just had this overwhelming feeling that my money was being thrown down a black hole.  I was right.  Scranton was financially distressed way back then.  Nothing has changed.  In fact, it's even worse now.

In a move dripping in benevolence, city council will amend its own rules tonight by allowing commuters to speak at its meeting.  Thanks.  Why?  It seems like council has already made up its mind.  Have people yell at you for an hour, vote yes anyway, and walk away with a clean conscience.  Commuters can't vote for or against you.

The way I see it, the commuter tax violates a basic principle, and one Scranton has avoided for decades:  You made this mess.  You fix it.