Abilene proposes street fee on college students, others

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Robert Pratt

“Abilene City Council moves towards street maintenance fee,” read a headline this week in the Key City.

“This new fee differs from the previous plans, with rates cut significantly across the board. But even with the smaller cost to businesses, homeowners, and those who rent apartments, everyone in attendance spoke against this renovated fee. Comments ranged from anger over the city asking for more money to some who were willing to compromise, but ask that the city hold a referendum to gauge public opinion,” reported KTAB.

According to an Abilene Reporter-News story the new lower fees still represent a very large tax increase on the those who choose to live in Abilene. Most homeowners will be charged $81 per year and those in multifamily housing $72 per year. Businesses get soaked with a fee of $300 to $900 per year and even college students who pick Abilene for their higher education get taxed $21 per year.

Abilene’s past city councils, apparently going back for decades, have passed budgets and tax rates similar to most other small and mid-sized Texas cities (it is not as if Abilene is leading the state in low taxes and a small city budget,) and yet unlike other cities, the city’s power crowd has not properly funded basic city services such as street maintenance in all those years.

How in the world is it good policy to adopt a fee that taxes everyone sleeping in Abilene to pay for what should already be funded in annual budgets as it is in other cities?

Until Abilene citizens know where their money has gone, that should have gone to street maintenance annually, they would be foolish beyond description to hand over more to a city government that cannot answer that question clearly.

Update: Led by Mayor Anthony Williams, the council voted to advance the street fee to the next step without a public vote.

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