Sunday, December 21, 2008

Today's gripe

If you happen to work in the city of Washington but live elsewhere, as I do, you already pay the city $52 a year for the privilege of working here. People bitched when this was raised from the old $10 per year fee, but really, one dollar a week is not a lot to pay for city services like fire and police protection. Because the city is in such dire financial straits, I'd even be willing to pay twice that.

The city, has a more lucrative idea, however. Council has just enacted a 1.15 wage tax on not just its citizens but on all people who work in the city. To put this in comprehensible terms, if you gross $50,000 a year at your job, the city will take $575 of that, in addition to the $52 it already takes. And you'll still have to pay the income tax to the municipality where you live.

Now, the township where I live claims 1 percent of my salary. However, I have a voice in township government because I get to vote for the supervisors. But because I don't live in Washington, I don't have the right to vote there, and don't have a voice in its government. So, what we have here is a case of taxation without representation.

Many companies are struggling to keep their employees. Some have managed to give their workers raises in the neighborhood of 2 percent to help them keep up with the cost of living. Now the city has taken half that raise away from those workers. How long do you think it will be before those companies begin voting with their feet and moving out of the city?


Brant said...

This is a governmental rape of the highest degree. I agree with you that I have no gripe about paying the wage tax to the municipality where I live, and I don't object whatsoever to the $52 service fee. But to take hundreds of dollars out of my pocket in a place where I don't even live? That's B.S. And for what? The streets that resemble the Ho Chi Minh trail? The worst snow removal I've ever seen? City leaders who do one stupid thing after another? The city council also has nearly doubled the tax on land in a year's time. If they haven't already, companies should be fleeing to the outskirts as quickly as they can. Residents, too. And if Washington sinks into bankruptcy, so be it. It's not like the roads will fall into further disrepair. I don't think that's possible.

Anonymous said...

You can thank J. Barry Stout for part of this, when he pushed legislation that made Washington & Jefferson College a charitable organization that makes them immune from taxation. Know what W&J did once it received that status, it began buying land to build on, tax free.

Churches, the hospital and other non-profit, charitable organizations don't pay, either.

This is nothing more than a money grab. I used to support the city, now I hope it goes bankrupt.

Anonymous said...

What else do you expect from a council that has a tired old man for mayor and an alcoholic convict as a council member?

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head, Park. Does this now give us the right to go to council meetings and ream them out? This is wrong on so many levels.

Moe said...

I can't believe the city is going to rape us like this.
The streets suck, the snow removal sucks and they have a three ring circus for council meetings.
I'm on a fixed income and live on budget. That's right, my salary is a fixed income just like the seniors who always claim to be mistreated while on a fixed income.
The city has gone too far this time.

Anonymous said...

As usual the Observer Distorter has it all wrong! The tax increase the city put on wage tax is 1.15% for residents only. Non-residents will pay only the additional .15% to the city, NOT 1.15% on top of the 1% they pay where they live.

If you are gonna report it, get it right!

Brant said...

I don't know about the accuracy of the original post, but even if it's an extra nickel they want, it's too much. We already pay the $52 fee, and for what? Crappy municipal services and a local government that has to be among the worst known to man. And I don't blame the workers on the road crews for the miserable conditions of the roads and the nearly non-existent snow removal. They can only work with what they're given. And that ain't much. I wonder if that money the city spurned in exchange for a chunk of Strawberry Alley could've been used to patch a few potholes or buy some road salt.

Park Burroughs said...

We checked with the city to verify this before publishing the editorial on Sunday. However, after reading the first comment on this post, we went back to the city for a second clarification, and it turns out that the city is not imposing a 1.15 percent wage tax on every nonresident worker. If you happen to live in a municipality that does not impose a wage tax, or you live in West Virginia or Ohio and work in the city, you will indeed be taxed 1.15 percent. But if you live in a municipality that already imposes a 1 percent wage tax, you'll have to pay only an additional .15 percent to the city. For a person earning $50,000 a year, that's $75 on top of the $52 already being paid.
We do have a voice in city government - we can all go to council meetings and complain. But we have no vote.
And Barry Stout had nothing to do with getting Washington & Jefferson College its tax-exempt status. It has always been tax exempt. The city took the college to court, challenging that status, and lost. Buildings and land used for instruction and student housing and activities are exempt from real estate taxes, but the college pays taxes on property it owns that is not used for those purposes - houses and apartments in rents, for example.

Dale Lolley said...

Whether it's a penny per dollar or .15 per dollar it's still too much. Isn't it enough that people who work in the city keep the city alive by frequenting the merchants that are left in town? Or by paying money at the various city parking meters and lots?
I live in South Strabane Twp. People who live in Washington have to drive through South Strabane to get in and out of the city on a number of sides. Maybe we should put up a toll booth?
This is absolutely ludicrous.