Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Higher (Taxes) Fees For Services

Council once again nonchalantly tackled the business of raising fees for its citizens.  Trash pick-up, recreational center use, and opening up a business will cost more.  The two most timid city leaders raised questions for (Mr.) City Manager Carlos Villarreal, but alas it made no difference.  Mr. Villarreal was quick to point out that Laredo has the lowest fees around the state.  That would be acceptable if it wasn't the only argument being discussed. 

In the end, the new fees were passed unanimously, even though Councilman Alex Perez spoke up for his older constituents, the ones on fixed incomes.  Mr. Perez couldn't even be moved to vote nay after appearing to show concern for the public.  It boggles the mind what inspires this council to vote the way it does even after people show up to voice their displeasure with new fees.

I especially like the last comment that Ms. Mary Lara made where she called out council.
Your community feels that speaking to you will not change your minds.  Prove them wrong.  Reconsider.
Of course, her pleas fell on deaf ears.  But what can the little ol' council do when they have some committee approving new fees, and the city manager barking at them?  They vote at will thinking that nobody is paying attention.

Mr. Villarreal had this response for Esteban Rangel:
Councilman, again, you know, and I can understand Ms. Lara, the lady that spoke previously about....we haven't done this in some cases in 20 years, sir.  And I'll tell you one thing, you go out to any store and you ask them if you had prices here since 1992 that you haven't changed, and they're going to tell you, "what's wrong with you?"  So it's not like we're doing this every year.  It happens to be that we're trying to make sure that we're at least, you know, within the ranges as other communities.  If not, we're going to get into the state that other communites are and then we're going to be in a worse shape.
All Mr. Rangel needed to do after that was bow to Mr. City Manager.

There are so many things that are suspect with Mr. Villarreal's rant, for example, his remark about fees not increasing every year.  Fees will in fact go up every year from now on, all because they've been stagnant for twenty years, according to him.  Forget for a while that they'll be increased yearly, it's the fact that they'll be throttled sky high.  He defends his point with a half-assed, cavalier comparison. 

At no point did any council member question how much the blue bin (recycling) program will cost to implement.  At no point did the Solid Waste budget come up.  Nobody asked how the department has grown, and what growth is expected in the coming years.  Nobody suggested going to once-weekly trash pickup.  All that was agreed upon was that Laredo has the lowest garbage fees in the state.  And that was enough for everybody to vote on. 

This is your city council, Laredo.

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