Letters to the Editor

Don’t believe the rhetoric; fees help protect taxpayers

Caren Ray
Caren Ray dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

It’s time to set the record straight. Tribune community columnist John Peschong continues to perpetuate the deception that fees are somehow part of the scheme of liberal supervisors to raise taxes. The truth is exactly the opposite. These fees protect taxpayers and are part of prudent, conservative fiscal policy.

Fees are one-time costs for a particular service the county provides. By eviscerating me for voting to raise fees, Mr. Peschong is arguing that when he chooses to play a round of golf, every single taxpayer in the county should help him pay for it. He is arguing that when he adopts a family pet, we should help him pay for that, too. He is arguing that when he parks his car at the airport, we all should subsidize his travel. This is hardly a protection of taxpayer money. It’s an abuse and a direct attack on people who cannot afford to subsidize such luxuries by making them share the cost.

What would happen if the Board of Supervisors did not adjust fees annually to reflect actual costs? That means you and I — Joe and Jane Taxpayer — pay to drive golf carts whether or not we choose to play golf. This same argument is true for every single one of the 233 fees he objects to. Naturally, he conveniently leaves out that in 2013, over 1,500 fees were left unchanged, and that most golf fees had not been adjusted in five years. Mr. Peschong would like to keep these costs frozen at 2009 prices, leaving us taxpayers to pick up the difference.

Since long before my tenure as supervisor, the board has had a policy of “cost recovery through fees.” San Luis Obispo County doesn’t profit off these fees; it recovers the cost of providing the services. This is responsible governance and is one of the many ways most supervisors, both conservative and liberal, have protected taxpayers over the years.

As a self-proclaimed professional political strategist, Mr. Peschong is well aware of the distinction between a fee and a tax. He is hoping that you do not understand the difference, and he is betting that if he keeps using the words alternately, you will continue to buy into this misinformation and support the candidates he tells you to vote for. This is an ongoing strategy of intentional deception to get you to reflexively reject the candidates he does not control by screaming “fees and taxes!” without thinking for yourself.

And this fall, when the supervisors vote again on the annual adjustment of fees, I can guarantee that the two supervisors backed by Mr. Peschong, Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton, will vote against any fee raises. Be sure to remember that what they are voting to do is spread the cost of those services to you and me. That’s hardly a proper application of conservative fiscal policy. That is not protecting working families or businesses; it’s a direct assault on taxpayers, by the very people who claim to protect them. Don’t forget that during election time.