Responsible Taxation is the judicious determination of costs. It is the raising of revenues to provide services to a community. A governor or legislature or mayor or island council must identify the services that are to be rendered for a community, and then determine how to pay for these.
The federal government, when providing funds for the construction of the sewage system, first required the Legislature to enact laws detailing how it would be operated, maintained, and replaced when necessary. Sewer users would pay a fee for the service. Likewise, the Solid Waste Law was enacted, and requires a tipping fee for the collection, transportation, and disposal of garbage.
The federal government assisted in the development of rules and regulations approving the formulas for raising the required revenues. No citizen or entity was to pay more for these services than it cost to provide the services by qualified personnel.
The recent coverage about real property taxes, which is normally a local lax for provision of specific local services in a local community, raises a few questions. What is the real property tax designed to accomplish? The Road Fund was created to construct and maintain roads, sidewalks, storm drainage, street lighting and so forth. What may be necessary is to determine the purposes of this tax and by regulation adjust the fees levied for these purposes. Real property taxes, for example, may be used on each island for education.
Taxation does not assume to use hardworking taxpayers' money for political jobs, freeloaders, and unqualified individuals. For example, the sewer user's fee is only to pay qualified certified wastewater plant operators.
Note the unrest being created in New Jersey by the recent admissions of the governor to hiring an unqualified person.
In our present situation $600 million, plus probably the same amount of federal money, is being termed inadequate for the V.I. budget. Maybe we better go back to square one, determine what services we need and budget only for those.
Costly financial advisors, million dollar consultants, and $200,000 a year employees and other quacks need to be let go. Our community of 125,000 people is too small for the excessive, extravagant, big time budget being proposed. We need belt tightening, reduction of the $1 billion unfunded liability at GERS, repayment of un-necessary bond issues, and payment of stated large sums of indebtedness. We must also stop transferring the dollars in various funds for specific purposes into the General Fund, now known as the "black hole." RESPONSIBLE BUDGETTING IS REQUIRED.
Arnold M. Golden
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