Too many fees, and not enough cuts

Published 10:17 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2009

After looking over the proposed city budget, I have a few suggestions on how the city could save a few dollars and make us taxpayers a little happier.

Cut the following membership dues: Cut the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission’s proposed $66,721 in half this year to $33,000 and more next year. Cut the Hampton Roads Partnership’s $15,675 in half to $7,000 this year and more next year. Cut the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance’s proposed $15,000 this year and eliminate this giveaway next year.

Wean the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts’ proposed $450,000 by $100,000 a year until they are self-supporting. There were no funds listed for other tax-exempt organizations pleading for money.

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The proposal to just give $225,000 to the city manager and let her hand it out is not the way a budget process should work, and elected officials should be the ones to approve any expenditures of public money.

The proposal to charge citizens $20 or $50 to pick up broken washers and dryers or broken water heaters should be removed from this budget. Citizens of Suffolk should be provided some services for all the taxes we pay. The proposal to charge homeowners with alarm systems $25 to register those alarms and $25 a year to keep the registration current is just another tax with a fee name.

There are savings of $147,000 here, just for this year, and I am sure more could be cut elsewhere in the proposed budget. There are 25 pages of fees in this budget that the city charges to provide services to its citizens. There are way too many to list here.