A Tale of Two City Revenue Scams EXPOSED

Like many folks, this author worked hard each day to earn money to pay bills and help others in need.

With the economic depression that the United States had felt itself in one could see that job losses had led to lowered city tax revenues.  What had been the result?  Many cities turned to the police as revenue generators ordered to fill a daily ticket quota or face threats of layoff or other miseries should they not choose to act as ordered.   

Beyond the automated red light ticket cameras police had become the new gangsters behind cities turning to new ways of generating funds by ripping off consumers, then turning the rip-off around to make consumers feel as if they might be unintended victims or by getting a benefit in exchange for the chance to become a local hero to others in need.  The city officials had become the new crime syndicates.  This could be exampled in the following story.

exhibit 1

exhibit 2

Two exhibits accompanied this recent story.  Exhibit 1 was the e-mailed receipt this author received after having gone online to the Washington State Department of Licensing to purchase new vehicle license tabs for a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle in late August of 2013.

Exhibit 2 was a letter from King County Metro Transit (Seattle) received along with license tabs on September 03, 2013.  This author lived in Black Diamond, a small coal mining town thirty-five miles from Seattle in southeast King County, Washington

He was most surprised after receiving the e-mailed receipt from the Washington State Department of Licensing.  Among the stack of fees added onto the basic license was one for $20.00 for a ‘Congestion Reduction Charge’.  The yearly-privilege to drive the car had gone up by $20.00 without his knowledge or consent.  In fact, King County government had reached into the author’s wallet and had stolen money.  There would be no way to get the money back.  It was, in fact, a tax.   He wondered, “What was the ‘Congestion Reduction Charge’ created for?”

The second part of the poop sandwich arrived in the mail a few days later.  It was a letter from King County’s Metro Transit (Bus service for Seattle) awarding eight free bus tickets to be used within three-to-four months in exchange for completing a form (contract) agreeing to the award.  The next catch in the letter made him feel as if a new hero had been born.   This author was given the choice to have the bus tickets mailed to him for personal use or he could choose to award them to a social service agency.

Anger boiled in his veins.  Yes, he liked to help others…especially the needy…but not at the point of being ripped off or made to take part in a rescue program as a misled social service hero.

This screamed of being the perfect consumer rip-off scheme.  As a consumer, he was not being protected under Washington State consumer protection laws.  Normally, a consumer would have had a choice to purchase an item or the choice to opt-out (say no) to purchasing an item.  He had not been given a choice to say no, nor the chance to ask for a refund of what was now stolen.  There had been no prior disclosure to him of this program’s existence for traffic congestion reduction, as well as no disclosure of a King County effort to help citizens in need of free bus tickets to get around Seattle.

Where was the relief as a misled taxpayer?  Whose pocket might be picked next?  And, for what reason would the next scam be generated by those elected to protect the ‘public trust’?

Anger made fingers race across the computer keyboard while being reminded of another rip-off by city officials.  This one had been closer to home in Black Diamond, Washington.

The rip-off involved the City of Black Diamond annexing the homes around Lake Sawyer in order to generate larger city tax revenues.  Almost seventy-percent of the homes on the lake are hooked into septic systems and cost the average homeowner about $600.00 per year to have pumped clean.

The other thirty-percent of homes around the area had been hooked into city sewer systems (formerly King County/Metro) since the 1980s…at a cost of $15,000.00 each per homeowner.   The majority of those funds had never been used to connect to any major system since that era and the city had made sure to make it happen in the 2000s.

In 2010 the City of Black Diamond had begun collecting a ‘Storm-water Runoff’ tax from all residents in the city.  The tax was originally begun at $13.00 which caused an immediate protest from citizens.  It was then lowered to around $11.00 and has now jumped to $13.00 in order to raise the ‘needed funds for storm drains in and around Lake Sawyer and the remaining streets in Black Diamond’.

After several residents on septic raised Holy Hell for being taxed twice…once by paying for their own sewage pumping, then being told storm drains would ‘eventually be built’ (and still had not been built as of late 2013), the furor continued without much relief.  To calm the protests the city began justifying the charge to all city residents. ‘Any resident who continued to drive a car in the city had to pay the tax, because dirty oil and water rinsed off of cars into the city’s street sewers and had to be cleaned before it ended up in Lake Sawyer’.  What the City of Black Diamond had continued hoping for was a mega-developer to come along to build the drains and sewers, then back-bill residents for its million-dollar costs into the future.  Many had high doubts that the sewage within city government would be pumped out anytime soon.  Citizens had lost faith in their local city government.  They, too, felt misled and ripped-off.  Nobody was being offered free rides around Black Diamond.  Lake Sawyer was still being polluted by runoff and the city kept blaming those on septic for its continued pollution.

A forensic audit of each city’s books begged to be conducted and the monies being held and spent made public.  Without that transparency many a citizen would decide on his or her own how to handle the taxing officials who had made its residents feel the very pains of hell prior to their own sojourns there.

What price ‘trust’?

© 2013 Sean T. Taeschner, M.Ed.


2 thoughts on “A Tale of Two City Revenue Scams EXPOSED

  1. Keeping two sets of books and robbing the citizenry is what’s keeping this nation’s economy afloat right now.

    If someone were to sit down and do the actual accounting with real numbers, there’s no telling how far in debt we’d be.

  2. Keep taxing the poor. That is what is happening. Tax the poor till there is nothing left to tax. The Federal Reserve should be taxed to oblivion.

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