Thursday, August 20, 2015

Franchise Fees: With Interest

Probably the most enduring post on TOD is Franchise Fees 101 and it is generally assumed this is due to folks trying to figure out how much the plunge into the deep end of the citihood pool is going to cost. It must be noted that other diatribes on these taxes (What Do Franchise Fees Buy? and Franchise Fees: What Are They Good For?) see little or no traffic.

Perhaps when the reader figures out that it is just another tax from just another taxing authority they give up. They may not even go so far as to learn that even the cable companies are now on a statewide franchise whilst the local yokels keep dragging in the money. So you pay and you pay and you cannot even go down to City Hall to raise a stink over that cable that has been lying across your yard for the last four months. Not their problem, take it up with the State. Oh, and good luck with that.

Or maybe they just total up the cost of Franchise Fees and shrug "this is chump change." It is. In comparison to the other costs (think of FARA writing Home Alarm Registration city ordinances) foisted on you by your newly minted and inexperienced (incompetent?) City Council that would indeed be the case. The fact of the matter is that Franchise Fees are the least of your worries if you're being driven like cattle into the slaughterhouse of Citihood.

Do not let Franchise Fees distract from more dangerous problems. A quick survey can be found in Shout Out To Frederick County, MD. It is incomplete but it is a good start.

You might also look to the track record of nearby upstart Cities, particularly Dunwoody and Brookhaven if you're forming your new circle of governmental hell in DeKalb County. Dunwoody has recently employed the sneaky back-door tax increase by keeping the same millage rate but refusing to craft a revenue neutral (lower millage) tax. This allows politicians to say "we did not raise the tax rate." Legal but deceptive and exactly what they've complained about for decades when the county does it. Then there's Brookhaven. Riding in on their moralistic white horse to joust with the strip clubs only to come out of the engagement muddy and bloody but with saddlebags overflowing with lucre. We'll not go into how quickly Lysol can stain a reputation.

We'll blast past it. 

The real canary in these mine shafts is the City Attorney. If not directly involved in founding these cities they are at least well connected to the powers behind them. And that both Dunwoody's and Brookhaven's CAs have gone down in flames leaving a dark trail of ethical smoke should give anyone even pondering a vote FOR another city like these (and they're all like these) considerable pause. Who are these people? Consigliere? And who the hell are they beholden to, our local version of a political Mafia?

Now you're catching on.

These cities are based on a particularly nasty foundation of greed and a lust for power because to a large degree this is a zero sum game. In their scratching and clawing to get "their share" they will set aside the truth in favour of convincing prevarications, what little integrity they  have will disappear and any transparency will be thru their distorting prism.

Though the citihood outcome is unavoidable there is a way out. Push for an amendment to allow these cities to form their own schools. Now these schools won't be any better (probably worse) but there are enough lemmings out there who will race to the cliff of "local control" that your home value will see a significant bump. Remember the end of busing (aka M to M)? Same thing, only more so. Once the bump kicks in and before the fools realize City Schools are same song second stanza, you cash out. Just get the hell out of Crazy Towne.