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benjamin melançon

Minneapolis is too dependent on fees and fines, with the result that people with the least money bear a disproportionately high share of city costs. I suspect that unfair enforcement makes fines even more of a burden on the poor. (Fines, in general, are meant to be a deterrent and so should be proportional to income or wealth.)

The worst, as far as unfairness built right into the structure, is the "base fee" included in services. This fee should be paid through property taxes, which are proportional with local property wealth at least. To make matters worse, the base fee for trash (solid waste services) for instance includes all sorts of unrelated things that are blatantly unrelated services that should be paid for through general revenue:

* Graffiti response coordination
* Dirty collection point cleanups
* Illegal dumping cleanups
* Neighborhood CleanSweeps
* Litter container collection, maintenance, placement, and removal
* Requests for litter clean-up supplies
* Coordination of Adopt-a-Block, Adopt-a-Litter Container, Adopt-a-Recycling Container, Adopt-a-Street, Adopt-a Highway, Adopt-an-Ash Receptacle, and other community involvement programs.
* Customer service staff, fielding 1500-2000 calls per week for information, and complaints.
* Coordination of special events such as Hennepin County Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collections, University move-out enforcement (Marcy Holmes, Southeast Como, Prospect Park), etc.
* Education program with direct mail pieces, maintenance of website, involvement with neighborhood and community meetings, and presentations to schools and civic organizations, etc.

Then there's the things built into the base fee that will mostly be used by wealthier people, like six vouchers per year for disposal of 2,000 pounds of excess garbage or debris, and two vouchers per year for disposal of 8 tires each time.

And finally, to add insult to injury, the cost of enforcement, which is really intrusive and yes i have personal complaints, is included in the base fee.

All detailed at http://www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/solid-waste/customer/solid-waste_billing