Letter: Taxes on essential services

To the editor:

In 2011, Arden Hills Councilmembers David Grant, Brenda Holden, and Fran Holmes wanted higher sales taxes to pay for Zygy Wilf’s Vikings stadium.

Now, they want utility taxes. There isn’t a tax they don’t like. Only Ed Werner is opposed. Taxes on essential services are addictive and can be increased at will.

Electric rates are already sky high, up 3.8% in 2013 and 6.6% this year. Only 74 of 335 cities in Xcel’s service areas (22%) impose utility taxes. If the City can’t live within its means, and needs extra funds for parks, trails, and streets, it should make its case and fund with property taxes.

A flat utility tax is regressive, hits those on energy assistance, and isn’t deductible or subject to a statutory budget process. Excel will collect the tax with limited accountability. It burdens tax-exempt non-profits and government. Bethel University, Presbyterian Homes, the Red Cross, churches, public facilities and schools will now be taxed, and at much higher rates than residences. We already pay for public facilities. This just adds to their expenses and our taxes.

Politicians love it. They can boast about limiting the property levy while they shift taxes to cluttered utility bills. A $57 annual tax on residents may seem small, but it’s bad precedent to move off the property tax base.

It’s opposed by AARP and the North Chamber of Commerce. Contact Councilmembers and show up at City Hall hearings. If all else fails, vote your views this fall if supporters seek reelection.

Gregg Larson
Arden Hills

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