“â€˜Sacramento, with nearly half a million residents, soon could be the largest city in California to do so. The City Council has scheduled a vote next month to establish what it’s calling a â€˜fire cost recovery charge.â€™ The fee would reimburse the city for a variety of emergency-related chores, including cleaning up hazardous fluids, putting out vehicle fires and responding to gas line explosions and downed power poles. Proposed fees would range from $432 for a â€˜scene stabilizationâ€™ to $2,275 for a helicopter evacuation. The measure is expected to raise as much as $500,000 a year, city spokeswoman Linda Tucker said.
“â€˜We’d like to be able to recover some costs â€¦ from the at-fault party,â€™ she said.
“Critics, however, are incensed that communities are now charging extra for what once were considered core services.
“â€˜To me, it’s an outrage. We’re already paying these people â€” the police department, the fire department, the emergency vehicle drivers â€” handsome salaries and benefits,â€™ said Lew Uhler, president of the National Tax Limitation Committee. â€˜Either we stop this kind of nonsense or we should quit paying taxes for these kind of services.â€™”
‘Crash taxes’ are growing in popularity among cash-strapped California cities. Drivers who cause accidents in at least 50 cities can be billed for the police and firefighters who show up. Critics are upset that cities are charging for what used to be a basic service, by Marc Lifsher, LA Times, December 30, 2010
A slippery slope there, Mr. Uhler. Revising commercial Prop 13 is a better idea.