One of the School Board Financial Advisory Board members has come out for something called an Adequate Public Facilities ordinance (ADF) – which sounds like a good-old-fashioned impact fee.
Now that’s wrong with that?
First, it’s a hidden tax. The county slaps a big fee on developers – but whoever buys what the developer sells – like a house – ultimately pays the tax. But they never see that they pay it – because the government technically charges the fee to the developer.
In other words APF’s are a sneaky way to tax a lot of people – without them ever seeing the tax come out of their paycheck. Taxes ought to be billed to the people who really pay them so they know what government is costing them. That’s the best way to hold taxes down.
Second, APF’s can be implemented and raised by local governments at will. They don’t need the legislature’s approval like many other local tax increases. They don’t need voter approval like a bond.
Can you imagine Mayor Meeker with that kind of taxing power in his hands? Lord knows what he’d try to build downtown to go with the Convention Center, hotel, supermarket and restaurant he’s already building with tax funds.
It may sound good – and in the short term some politicians will make hay – by saying let’s sock it to the developers. But if the politicians really want to raise taxes what they ought to do is say, ‘Let’s raise taxes,’ and tell us how much rather than sneaking in the back door with hidden fees.