Thursday, January 10, 2008

Ponderous Detritus Rates

The cynicism to which people are entitled with respect to government can be seen in the latest news in Lexington concerning the almost doubling of the sewerage rates by the summer of next year. Lexington residents have been saddled with the problem of sanitary sewers overflowing into or beyond storm sewers for many years, so what happened in 2000? The council slapped the taxpayers with PDR (Purchase of Development Rights), through which landowners outside the service area are PAID (actually bribed) not to “develop” their land for commercial purposes, even though the Planning/Zoning Commission and the urban-county government already controlled (and still do) that “development.”

The city gets nothing out of PDR, not the title to one square-inch of land, but the landowners – the wealthy – take the loot, laugh all the way to the bank, sit back and take their ease. Since 2000, Fayette County taxpayers have coughed up $21.6 million to these landowners and the feds have added another $26.9 million (the old “earmark” thing), meaning that local taxpayers pay the leeches twice. So…the takers collect an average of $2,467 per acre while the citizens inside the service area can just “eat cake.” The last payment was made last fall in the amount of some $710,000 to some folks so they can look at their rolling fields and see dollar marks growing as the contraband (defined as: “illegal or prohibited traffic in goods”) is invested. Make no mistake…PDR stands for THEFT, pure and simple.

One wonders what $3 million per year since 2001 (just UFCG money) would have done for the sewer problem. Add the fed money and the total comes to nearly $7 million per year that could have been spent to solve the sewer problems instead of paying horse owning-millionaires in some cases for NOTHING. This is local government at its worst. The PDR program, to which Mayor Newberry has dedicated another $2 million this year, is reprehensible, and it’s noteworthy that only a handful of protected lands are adjacent to the service area, in the first place. The folks who should be receiving the money logically for doing the “right thing” are not dumb enough to sacrifice the privilege now of developing their invaluable assets abutting the service area later, when the time is right for “big money.”

So…why should taxpayers worry about dotting the “i’s” and crossing the “t’s” when tax-time comes? Would they be any guiltier if they falsify their returns than the local government is in confiscating their money and GIVING it to someone else…and not to the homeless, either, but to people already living “high on the hog?” The whole thing is disgusting, and one is forced to wonder at the motives of those who sit on the council and cast their votes. Just why would such an unfair program be inculcated? Yeah…one wonders, alright. What’s it worth…and to whom?

In the meantime, the rains come down and the sewers overflow…so the council gets busy and doubles everybody’s water bill so the fat cats can enjoy agricultural paradise. Perhaps PDR should stand for PONDEROUS DETRITUS RATES! Nuts!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

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