Appleton to Approve Additional Fees / by Tom Roessler

On June 18th the Appleton city council voted to increase monthly parking fees from $30 to $40, and add a $0.50/week fee for 30-gallon refuse carts.  Read on to learn more…

Monthly Parking Fees:

Employers providing parking passes for their employees will present this as an increase in salary, a raise.  This negatively impacts the employees.

The City Budget cites Appleton Property Taxes are spent on parking permits for all city employees. Over $20,000/annually is spent on library employees’ passes alone.

When questioned about this, the city’s response indicated NO TAXPAYER MONEY IS USED FOR THE PARKING UTILITY…it is all put into a fund, not delineated as to source. When asked why passes are not given without reimbursement by property taxpayer money, gratis, the response was that it is a “philosophical choice”.

Now would be a good time to look at the present policy: Give the passes without charging the property tax owners. New parking ramps will be constructed for downtown apartments and US Venture to generate additional income.

Addendum: The parking fee increase had gone to the council, but was sent back to committee as it was deemed too high.

Garbage can fees:

Property owners have already paid additional fees to cover the purchase of their recycling bins. 

Fees were then added to the “regular” garbage cans to encourage movement to the smaller cans leading to a reduction in garbage collected, resulting in a reduction in landfill/tipping fees. 

With the public responding favorably to the city’s desire, additional fees are poised to be imposed in an amount DOUBLE that of what is “needed”.

Solution: Using the money garnered from the parking permit practice being altered, releasing the property tax burden of paying for parking fees of city employees, at least twice the amount needed to cover the $40,000 increase in tipping fees would be found.

It was refreshing to read that Mayor Dean Kaufert re-prioritized his city’s budget when road repairs needed to be addressed. 

Even though the tax base has significantly expanded, the Appleton City Council opted instead to move ahead aggressively on capital projects, increasing the annual budget by 9.9%, delaying no projects (including the renovations to City Hall at over $700,000), tucking unforeseen costs ($850,000 for removal of contaminated soil) into debt, collecting more than needed (overage used to pay down debt to keep additional borrowing accessible).

The practice of generating additional streams of income (fire pits, wheel tax, recycling and garbage cans, street lights) impacts affordable living here.

Outagamie County just approved the half-cent sales tax, which will generate more money for local municipalities. Is there any reason this money cannot be used to reduce/cease these burdensome costs?