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May 3, 2010

CONTACT:
Lani Lutar
                     619-234-6423 or lani@sdcta.org
                     Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR
                     619-997-2495 or gayle@falconvalleygroup.com

SDCTA Denounces “Reckless” Double Taxation Attempt by City of Chula Vista
Association urges consolidation and reforms before imposing new crash fees


 
(San Diego) – If you are a businessperson who provides professional services like plumbing or landscaping, wouldn’t it be great if you could charge your customers twice for the same job? But you’d never get away with it, unlike some government agencies sticking it to their “customers” in San Diego County.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association strongly opposes yet another attempt by a government agency to charge its constituents twice for providing a service already funded through their taxes. Following other agencies down the road of double taxation, the Chula Vista City Council will consider imposing what it calls “cost-recovery” fees for accident related services rendered at the scene of vehicle accidents at its meeting on Tuesday, May 4, at 4 p.m. The party responsible for the accident would be responsible for payment of the fee.

If the plan is adopted, the City of Chula Vista would contract with the private firm Fire Recovery USA, LLC, to provide billing and collection services for fees ranging from several hundred to several thousand dollars to cover the costs of responding to car accidents, including the costs of fire personnel and cleaning up hazardous liquids at the scene of an accident.

These fees would rangefrom $435 for “scene safety and investigation” up to $2,100 depending on the severity of the accident.

“We understand that times are tough for government agencies,” said Lani Lutar, President & CEO of SDCTA. “But ‘crash taxes’ anger constituents and they are irresponsible. Tax dollars are already provided to government to provide these services. Just like in the San Miguel Fire District, this attempt to hit up taxpayers for more money comes after a failed attempt to increase taxes on citizens, which voters defeated by a two to one margin last year.”

Lutar noted that this sort of billing practice is against the law in nine states because it’s considered unfair to taxpayers, but it is currently legal in California. Lutar said she’s concerned about the unintended consequences of these fees.

“Will individuals think twice before reporting accidents because they might be hit with these fees?” said Lutar. “Will they delay calling 9-1-1 while thinking about whether they can afford the cost of the response, possibly delaying lifesaving help? This is a reckless idea and Chula Vista city councilmembers should think long and hard before crashing toward it,” declared Lutar.

Lutar said a more sensible solution is to explore consolidating smaller fire agencies into a larger, more cost-efficient agency such as the merging of fire administration services by the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, and Lemon Grove; and to require employees to contribute more toward their city-funded pension programs.

The San Diego County Taxpayers Association is a non-profit, non-partisan organization, dedicated to promoting accountable, cost-effective and efficient government and opposing unnecessary new taxes and fees. Founded in 1945, SDCTA has spent the past 65 years saving the region’s taxpayers millions of dollars, as well as generating information to help educate the public. Visit www.sdcta.org

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