Like a descending cloud of stinging insects, Grosse Pointe Woods taxpayers this year are being attacked by a swarm of "killer fees" designed to milk more money from residents who own burglar alarms, pay water bills or pay their taxes with a credit card.
Several so-called "service" fees, alas, have been skillfully manipulated to become unvoted tax increases. Some fees are necessary, like those you pay to assure that construction and installation of public services are safe and sound. Too many of them, however, are just put there to fleece taxpayers.
Heard about the new burglar alarm charge?
If your house is alarmed, you now must pay a one-time $60 three-year fee to register it. In the past, if your alarm went off too frequently you'd get charged by the city if police had to respond. Now if it goes off and you haven't paid the alarm registration "fee," you don't get any break.
Which begs the question: "Why must we pay such high taxes and an additional 'fee' just to have a burglar alarm to keep our family safe?"
Woods' residents get billed six times a year for water. No matter how much water and/or sewerage your household consumes, you must pay an additional $2 "billing expense" on each invoice - which recently was doubled from $1.
What's the 2 bucks for? Who knows? The Woods has a full-time water clerk who gets a salary, generous paid vacation, paid health care etc., all charged against the city's bloated budget that your hard-earned money goes to bloat.
Put a pencil to it. There are roughly 7,000 homes and businesses in Grosse Pointe Woods. They all buy city water. Thus, six times a year the city collects $14,000 from home owners and businesses, just for billing you? That's $84,000 a year that 7,000 consumers dump into the city treasury ON TOP of their meter charges.
Another recent entry in the Woods' fee-collecting marathon is a whopping 4 per cent surcharge levied if you choose to pay your property tax bill with a convenient credit card.
Now, the advantages of paying any large purchase with a credit card are obvious. We can pay the debt off slowly (with huge interest added for the banks, of course) and pile up airline miles and assorted other valuable credits for future use.
For years Grosse Pointe Woods residents begged to use plastic to pay their property tax bills even with the added interest, but were sternly refused. Last winter, however, the Woods' tax-and-spend city council realized that a "credit card surcharge" could be a real cash cow. If you want it, they'll happily make you pay for it!
In addition to the bizarre one per cent "administration fee" the city always has tacked onto our semi-annual property tax bills just for going to all the "trouble" of billing us, this year Wood' officials have added a new 3 per cent "courtesy" or "processing" fee to use plastic.
Courtesy? Say your tax bill is $3,000 and you want to charge it. Your total add-on "killer" fee is 4 per cent, or $120. Property taxes are payable twice a year. Say your annual tax total is $6,000. You must pay the city $240 for the dubious "privilege" of giving them that $6 grand?
You may want to remember in November that these same fee-crazy city leaders want you to vote to give them 4-mills, totalling $2 million a year, for a Headlee Override blank check and a questionable 10-year road bond, instead of cutting their bloated budget, salaries and expenses like you and I have to do when money's short.
Tell 'em to tighten their belts. NO New Taxes. NO Blank Check.