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A problem with facts and a misguided sense of fairness


Posted on June 2, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 2, 2013 at 4:04 p.m.

David Schemenauer is president of Marshall Home and Garden. He can be reached at 266-4271.

 

I read Mayor Dick Moore’s May 28 guest column (“Compact fee facts and figures”), in which he said, “It’s all about fairness.” Well, let’s see what Mayor Moore sees as fair:

Ÿ Mayor Moore charges businesses more than $40,000 dollars a year just for the right to flush their toilets. Is driving our businesses and jobs to neighboring cities fair to the people looking for work? Is it fair to force our citizen to commute to other cities to remain employed?

Ÿ Mayor Moore continues to use the wording of “fees” instead of taxes to bypass our state’s constitutional guarantees that no company will be taxed beyond the 3 percent limit. Is overriding the law fair to the General Assembly, which gave us these protections from abusive local government?

Ÿ Mayor Moore chooses to bypass his own city council responsibilities to create his private “hand-picked” committee to determine the city’s future. Even the state called this illegal and “unfair” to those that want to see city issues discussed in an honest open forum.

Mayor Moore finished his piece with “these are the fact.” Let’s take a look:

Ÿ Mayor Moore claims he’s here to protect the city’s pocketbook, even though the fact is that not one dollar of his “fees” goes directly to the sewer department. They go to a fund controlled by Mayor Moore.

Ÿ Mayor Moore continues to ignore annexing requests from businesses on our vital C.R. 17 corridor. Why? Because he can now push their taxation over the legal limit by using “fees” instead of taxes and collect money for his fund while providing no additional services to these businesses. Providing these businesses the services afforded city companies would actually reduce one company’s cost by over $10,000 and provide service it cannot receive now. Have we all not seen this once vibrant corridor come to a standstill?

OK, maybe he has a problem with facts and a misguided sense of fairness, but at least he’s honest and cares for the citizens of Elkhart. Once again, let’s take a look:

We all remember that in April he said, “I am not willing to give city services to those outside the city at wholesale prices when the people of Elkhart are paying retail.” But he failed to mention that he did sign an agreement to expand an existing agreement to have Elkhart’s sewer system service the sewer needs of Michigan’s Ontwa Township and Granger, and he sells this at a rate that is 37 percent less than the rate average Elkhart citizens receive.

Because we do care about telling the whole truth, this is actually good for the residents of Elkhart. Courtesy of Miles Laboratory, Elkhart has excess sewer capacity. Our city workers process it effectively and efficiently, allowing these great deals to be offered. This benefits us by using this resource more efficiently and provides reduced expenses for all. The problem is not our sewer system. It is the mayor’s abuse of this vital resource to extort funds from unsuspecting businesses and residents alike. We offer these discounted rates to others because we can, but at the same time Mayor Moore demands surcharge “fees” that equal 20-plus times the actual usage costs for the businesses just outside our city borders. Is this fair to our greater community? Is there a benefit In driving our companies into the willing arms of neighboring cities?

While this in itself is disturbing, it’s how the mayor chooses to bully the weak that presents the greatest problem. Our system of government is based on checks and balances to protect our rights. Mayor Moore, however, chooses to attack those who cannot fight back; he attacks those residents and businesses just outside of city limits, who cannot exercise the vote to stop these abuses from reoccurring.

Mayor Moore, if we treat our neighbors with respect, if we treat the companies who employ our residents fairly, if we give our elected officials the respect to do the difficult job they are entrusted to do, then we as an entire community can thrive. Our factories full, our residents employed, our city a positive example of things done right — then you won’t have to worry about protecting our city’s pocketbook, it will be full.


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