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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake City News

Lake City Approves $63,446,535 Budget: Also, Double Taxation & Hidden Trash "Kickback"

LAKE CITY, FL – It was smooth sailing for City Manager Wendell Johnson last night as the $63,446,535 City budget was approved without one question from the City Council. The City's increased fire assessment was approved, with a couple of members from the public voicing displeasure with the increase. The City also approved Waste Pro's new trash collection rates as a result of the County raising its tippage fees over 20%.

The City Budget At a Glance

Double Taxation: An Unfair Contribution

City residents are County residents. City residents pay their full complement of County taxes. For what some consider a higher level of service, City residents also pay City taxes.

City residents represent 21.6% of the County.

Last night, buried in the budget was a payment for what the City called "Council on Aging." This was a payment to the Columbia County Senior Services Center for $60,000.

On August 15, 2014, the County 5 approved a County contribution to Columbia County Senior Services of $166,767. The City taxpayer contribution to that amount, based on population, is $36,022.

Adding the $36,022 contribution of County's City residents to the $60,000 paid directly by the City, the City's real taxpayer contribution to the Senior Center is $96,022.

With 21.6% of the County's population, City residents are contributing 39.7% of the total contribution to Columbia County Senior Services, Inc.

The City's taxpayers are being taxed twice for a contribution to the Senior Center.

Garbage Assessment Raised: Includes "kickback" to City

Due to the County's bogus financing of capital improvements, wherein the County charges present day residents upfront for the cost of future capital improvements, the City's trash collector, Waste Pro, was hammered with a 20% plus increase in County landfill tippage fees.

Last night, the City Council approved an increase in the trash collection rates to cover the unforeseen increase.

Buried in the restated agreement between the City and Waste Pro is a City Franchise Fee, for both commercial and residential trash collection. It averages about 10% and makes the City a partner of Waste Pro, enabling the City to collect 10% of Waste Pro's City trash collection revenue.

If the City was the mob, this would be called a kickback. The City calls it a franchise fee.

This fee is passed along to the City residents and businesses in higher trash collection rates.

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