Special to HuntingtonNews.Net

by Marilyn Howells

The user fee is wrong on  many levels.
  1. The usage fees merely transfer taxes from the businesses to workers. Businesses and their facilities need police and fire protection 24 hours a day, and roads to bring customers,
2.  The usage fee is not applied to all people who live in the city . Some residents earn money from investments. All city residents regardless of income  should pay.
3. Compare the time spent in the city by residents and by non residents workers. Residents are essentially here 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or 168 hours a week, which is over four  times the average 40 hour work week of non city residents.

4. What about part-time workers?  They will have to pay $5 a week, even if they only work one  day a week at minimum wage?
5. Consider a couple, both working for minimum wage.  They would pay $260 a year each, that's $520 a year. 
6. The usage fee taxes people without representation. Many people who work in the city don't live in the city and can't vote. Remember the tea tax from England on the colonies levied without representation?   It helped start the American Revolution. This is taxation without representation.

7.  A " usage fee"  is a flat income tax. The whole thing is discriminatory, and regressive, as everyone uses the roads, not just the workers.
8. Every business, house and structure has an owner. Yet many will not pay under this increased usage fee or any usage fee.
9.  In the 1950's  Huntington had maybe 86,000 residents. Now, what is it, just under 50,000?  Spend money, accordingly, by cutting waste, such as redundant upper level jobs. Huntington has a mayor and city manager. A city attorney, assistant city attorney and outside legal consulting services. And how many other new positions have been created?

10. Mom and Pop small business could pay more in usage fees if they have three or four family members working than if they paid the former B & O tax rate. That's the elephant in the room, the "B" word. Previously, council cut B & O taxes.

    Leaders should think about all these ramifications before they raise the usage fee. The Mayor makes suggestions, but council does not have to fall for all of them. Let  city council develop more back bone and stand up to the Mayor. The user fee is  poorly thought out, regressive, discriminatory, and favors the rich, by  penalizing  the lowest paid.

  Marilyn  Howells Huntington, WV