Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 72
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for January 4, 2001, printed January 11

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Dear Editor

How were your gas & electric bills for November? December will be even higher, because December was a very cold month. On top of the high usage, energy prices have gone up and will continue to rise as low supply meets high demand. At least it’s not as bad here (relatively) as it is in other parts of the country. California has ‘deregulated’ electric rates by making the utilities spin off their generation capacity and then buy their power from suppliers who have more market power. In the Northeast, they’re dependent on heating oil – and oil prices are extremely volatile because supplies are controlled by foreign countries.

The wisdom of limiting domestic power plant construction and oil exploration is another subject. What I really want to talk about is windfall (or maybe I should call it ‘snowfall’) tax revenue for our municipalities. If you look at your bill, you may see various city and/or county taxes and a ‘franchise fee.’ All of these are applied as percentages of your value of your bill. The franchise fee is, in essence, an additional tax on a necessity, which increases as your use and/or the cost of the necessity increases. The more you need heat, the more you’re taxed.

Warrensburg has a 6% franchise fee, which means that Warrensburg has an extra 6% tax on your natural gas, electric or water bill. If you use twice as much as you did last year, you pay twice as much – to the company and to the city. If the price of natural gas is rapidly rising, you’ll pay proportionately more. Let’s look at some examples; they use natural gas, but could also apply to electricity:

It’s adding insult to injury. Maybe the City of Warrensburg should consider a rolling back the franchise fee as Independence has.

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