Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Of Battles And Boundaries

I would have registered my outrage earlier today about the $10 fee that the County is imposing, but I was fighting a little fee of my own. It turns out that our home has one of the most camouflaged off-street parking spots in the state of Utah. The police can't always tell the difference between our property and the city street. Since parking is forbidden, during the winter months on the street, we were given two parking tickets in three days. That's $50.00--not much--just the price of five pizza's.

This interesting situation began many years before we lived here. The city had decided to extend the cul-de-sac by our house. Rather than narrowing the street at our house, our neighbor proposed that the city leave things as they were. It was a win-win scenario. The city would save the cost of reformatting the street, and two homes would have ready-made 45 degree parking. The first thing my friendly neighbor across the street explained to us when we moved in was that every once in a while, we'd get a ticket for parking on our property.

So, off we go to city hall. Wondering all the way how we're going to explain this situation. It went quite smoothly, however, because the bailiff vouched for us. It seems that our neighbor spoke from some good experience.

Now, it's been suggested to me that, in this circumstance, the city ought to have paid us for our trouble. I must respectfully disagree with this, because, at the end of the day, order was restored. The government has held up its end of our little agreement. You can be sure that my wife and I were probably the only two people today to have left that courtroom smiling.

For me, just a $10 fine would have been worth a visit to a judge because of the land that the money represents. My land, not the city's.

And a similar $10 fee, though small, for 'corridor preservation', sounds like the same situation. This time, both the County and the State have forgotten their boundaries. Like so much camouflaged parking.

The Davis County Commission says that this money only represents a cheese pie, but I'm sure that it means much more. To the State it means that it pays half of its obligation--of our taxpayer dollars. So much of what we pay in taxes goes toward transportation funding that we should think of this new fee as triple the increase in spending than is being represented. Not only the $10 we pay in fees, but the $10 matched from the state, and the $10 that would have been spent on this need, but that now goes towards something else. We should realize that the money not paid by the state, as a result, will be redistributed to other programs. Some are worthy programs, and some not.

Mostly not, because the state will have succeeded in shirking its second largest fiscal responsibility. (The first being education.) Who's to say that Utah will act rightly in other areas, when it hasn't in this one? It's better to let the state fund the larger needs, rather than asking, or forcing, others too.

So, today, I won my little $50 battle, but the county lost its bigger $10 war.