Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can We Talk Equity and Fairness?

While the talks continue about the merger with the Lake Whatcom Water & Sewer District (click here to read the latest Herald article on the subject), our City Council is voicing its concern over fairness to city customers.

The Herald article quoted Council Member-at-Large Louise Bjornson as saying “I think, all in all, if we could aim at it not costing the city ratepayers, (that) is very important… “For me it would make sense for district customers not to be subsidized by city ratepayers.” The Herald piece went on to say, “Public Works Director Dick McKinley said his goal was to focus discussion about rates not on taxes but on changing district rates to parity with city customers."

“All well and good.”, says the Zonemaven, however, he has heard nothing from the city on his proposal to charge full cost for installation of Bellingham’s city water meters for owners of income producing, single family properties, i.e., rentals. (Read the Zonemaven’s blog original blog entry on the subject by clicking here)

Not too loud, as somebody might hear......but a reminder to Zonemaven readers (including the City Council) that the live-in property owners are subsidizing each installation of a meter on these rentals to the tune of $300 to $600. That’s about 15,000 installations. Do the math and you will find this subsidy is not chump change - and you, the single family, live-in property owner are paying it, while the rental owner is taking the savings to the bank.

The Zonemaven has yet to hear anything from the council on his modest proposal for fairness by striking equity into the heart of water meter installation in Bellingham. "Sauce for the goose..."

1 comment:

Terry said...

Everyone should pay full cost. Are live-in property owners paying full cost and landlords NOT paying full cost?

That makes no sense.

But I do have a concern with issues of applying charges specifically to "income producing" properties.

What about the homeowner who bought - and rents out affordably - the house next door for his own physical security rather than as a money-making operation? (by owning it, he controls who lives in it and can ensure it doesn't become a drug house, illegal rooming house, etc)

I rented for years from a retired teacher who lived in the home until she retired; the house supported her in retirement. (And after 15 years, my 30% below market rent had become 50% below market - no gouging here!)

Many rental property owners are NOT professional landlords in it for the money, and I don't know why they should be treated as if they were greedy money-grubbers.

On the other hand, distinguishing between them raises other issues.

I'm not clear on why "income-generating" property should be regulated and/or taxed differently from other property.

We already - okay, almost everybody except you people up in Washington and in a few other states - have an income tax.

So let's tax income and stop discriminatorily taxing the things which produce said income.