“Obamacare” is about to be referenced, even though today’s topic is not about healthcare. So for those opposed, don’t immediately use this column as toilet paper.
The Supreme Court ruled Obamacare constitutional on the grounds that it was a tax. Had it been a mandatory purchase, it would not have passed legal muster.
Which makes the situation occurring in towns nationwide absolutely mind-blowing. Local governments, often via their Sewer Authorities, have been mandating residents pay huge out-of-pocket costs to connect to public sewer systems, even if one’s septic system is working flawlessly.
In other words, you are required by duty-to-connect ordinances to shell out big bucks for something you might not want, need, nor can afford (despite already paying substantial taxes). In most cases, there are no opt-outs, negotiations, exceptions. You buy in, or else.
And “or else” can be staggeringly severe.
A case in middle-class suburban Philadelphia provides a vivid example of this mammoth government overreach.
Several years ago, paternalistic leaders decided they wanted public sewers. So they enacted ordinances requiring residents to participate in what amounted to a double-whammy.
The first step is for each household to pay $6,000 for the sewer line that runs along the street (aren’t taxes supposed to take care of such things?). The actual fee is $5700, but the Sewer Authority rubs salt in the wound by tacking on a $300 “permit application fee.” Making you pay for a permit after having a $5,700 bill shoved down your throat — real classy.
What if you don’t have $6,000 lying around? What if you are a cash-strapped new homeowner, or have tuition bills? What if your job is shaky, or you already lost it? What if you are a fixed-income senior, now forced to choose between medicine or paying the government for something you don’t need?
Not surprisingly, the municipality offers no financing. So good luck getting a loan, since banks aren’t lending to the under- or unemployed and retired seniors. And if you can’t foot the bill, the government places a lien on your home, robbing you of your right to sell your most valuable asset. Where are we? Venezuela? Hugo Chavez, eat your decomposing heart out!
Pols need to understand that as stewards of the people’s money, they shouldn’t forge ahead on unnecessary (and unaffordable) projects. Chris Christie teaches us that, and it’s paying huge dividends. Passing the buck to residents because you want a pet project is unconscionable.
After the sewer pipe installation is completed, homeowners are required to connect via private contractor within 90 days. That financial whopper varies, but another $8,000 is not uncommon (including another permit fee!).
In addition to liens, homeowners also face a summary offense and fines of up to $1,000 per day for not connecting, and no, that’s not a misprint. So now the government can bankrupt you and render your house unsellable, all for the high crime of using an operational septic system that isn’t legally banned in a situation where there are no aggrieved parties.
And what if you just spent $20,000 for a new septic? Tough excrement. Those people get doubly flushed down the toilet, losing their investment and paying for an unnecessary sewer connection. Residents must also pay to have their septics pumped out, have holes punched in the bottom, and remove lids from tanks. Not cheap.
The government’s nauseating justification? Directly from its website:
“From a philosophical view, if government and industry continue to put off spending, the recession will only continue. Projects such as this sewer project are in fact good for the economy and provide jobs for companies and employees.”
Seriously? What planet are these nincompoops from? Uranus?
Do they have any idea how the local economy could really boom if residents weren’t shelling out $15,000 for sewers no more ecologically sound than the septic systems they replace? How many home improvement projects of real value could have been constructed? Businesses created? Nights out on the town? All curtailed or completely kyboshed by Big Brother.
Yet the free market is the solution. If most on a given street opted for public sewers, they could sell their houses for substantially more than those remaining on septic. Prospective buyers, anticipating they might want to connect later, would factor that into their lower offer price. A win-win, as individuals, not the government, choose what is best for them. Case closed.
Instead, for those unable to connect, the government snatches away the right to sell their house, while potentially fining them incalculable sums, creating immense animosity where there should be harmony.
But give this local government credit for one thing. On the “History” section of its website, it states that the area once “was an open and free land.”
At least they got the tense correct.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist, television commentator, and investigative reporter who operates his own news bureau, Freindly Fire Zone. Read more reports from Chris Freind — Click Here Now.
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