To The Editor:
Webster defines freeloader as someone who takes advantage of the generosity of others without offering to help financially.
In a recent letter in the July 16 Missourian by W.E. Mayhew he states “that I am a freeloader because I have the audacity to shop in the city and go to church in the city.” Shopping, going to church, going to public or private schools, or going to the Washington Town and Country Fair does not make you a freeloader by definition. You pay for those activities, but you are a freeloader for the following reasons:
One, you pay nothing for fire protection except a voluntary payment to the rural fire association. It is hard for me to place a value on your protection from the Washington Fire Department but using the Boles Fire Protection District charge of 80 cents per $100 assessed valuation, you should probably pay between $600-$800 or more for a home in your subdivision — Meadow Lake Farms — for fire protection.
Two, the road to your subdivision is a Washington Special Road District road. Residents, including you, pay only about 8 percent of the taxes that fund the operations of that district. Who pays 92 percent but gets almost nothing in return — the taxpayers of Washington. You get an almost free road to your subdivision thanks to the Washington taxpayers.
Third, if you use the Washington Library you are also freeloading because the budget of the library is about $500,000 ($495,000). The residents of Scenic Regional Library paid only about $40,000 in 2013. Sixty percent of the people who use our library are Scenic Regional patrons and live outside the Washington Library District. The citizens of Washington pay over 95 percent of the operating budget. This amount does not include the cost of the building.
Fourth, if you use the parks you are also freeloading, unless you pay fees for the use of certain facilities like all Washington residents.
Fifth, your law enforcement, provided by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, is paid for with a sales tax that is mostly collected by the cities. As city residents, we help pay for your police protection. Like it or not, the truth is you are freeloading off the city’s generous taxes and services.
In a conversation with the mayor, she told me you stated that you moved here because of the conditions in the city of Washington. You were impressed with the general ambiance of Washington. Well, it did not get this way because of people like you. If you like it here, put your money where your mouth is on this issue. If you are not happy with Washington, move or stay out of town.
In your letter to the editor after the election you gave your reasons why annexation failed; 52 percent of the voters have their individual reasons. Some even agree with you, but some of your information is complete fabrication and misdirected.
As a recent editorial pointed out, the city did not raise taxes. It cannot raise taxes without voter approval. The city did renew the one-half cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax in 2010. The city also passed a one-half cent Transportation Sales Tax during my first term as mayor. That had a 25-year sunset provision. This tax is being used to pay for the city’s share (50 percent) of improvements to Missouri Highway 100 — expansion of lanes from two to four, and a 10-12-year renewal program to maintain and improve city streets. Again, these taxes were levied by voter approval.
You rail against all governments. As a recipient of the largesse of the federal government (your pension), it seems you are part of the problem. The federal government has been mismanaged for years — it spends more than it receives in revenue (taxes), borrowing 50-60 percent to pay for its expenses like your pension.
Fortunately, the state of Missouri has a balanced budget by law, expenditures equal revenue, and the city of Washington is also in that position.
I would challenge you to find a city that has more services for its citizens and is better managed than the city of Washington, Mo. As a resident outside city limits, you benefit from this well-managed city. As I repeated earlier, if you think this city is so badly managed, please move, and take your half-baked ideas elsewhere.