There has been much discussion, debate and, my guess, behind-doors arm-twisting about the inclusion of the flood wall fee in the Parkersburg city budget.
The real issue, though, is the city of Parkersburg's so-called flood wall fee is a misnomer and borders on being purposely deceptive.
The flood wall fee, just like the police and fire fee and the user fee, is not a "fee" but rather a "tax." The flood wall fee does not go into a dedicated, enterprise fund, as it once did for the maintenance and improvement of the food wall that protects downtown Parkersburg.
The fee merely rolls into the general fund, which became its accounting destination decades ago when the dedicated flood wall account was terminated.
What this means is any improvement to the flood wall or maintenance of the flood wall is paid out of the general fund. If there is money enough in the general fund, all is well and good, but if there isn't, whose fault is it and what happened to the money that was in the dedicated flood wall fee when that money was incorporated into the general fund? Did it just roll into the general fund with no earmarks? My guess is, of course, it did.
In essence the flood wall fee, just as the police and fire fee and the user fee, goes to the general operation of the city and thus is little more than an additional "tax" imposed upon those who do business in the downtown district.
The argument, to me, is not whether there should be a flood wall fee imposed on downtown property owners to protect their businesses from a flood, but rather why isn't that fee paid into a dedicated, enterprise fund to accomplish what its name implies.
For the city to collect the fee and merely roll it into the general fund is a deceptive practice, supported by comments from council members implying they are going to use the flood wall fee money to give wage increases to city employees.
Of course, the council members are careful not to say the wage increases will be from the user fee, which they vowed they wouldn't do when the user fee was put in place. But since all the "fees" roll into the same fund, it's just as obvious the wage increases will be coming from all the collected fees. How can one be separated from the other if there are no enterprise or dedicated accounts?
Deceptive, deceptive, deceptive!
As a four-term, former governor of Ohio once told me, give a government body money and it always will find ways to spend it! What he didn't say is government will find ways to hide its spending of that money and deceive the public all along the way.
The first issue of The Mid-Ohio Valley Outdoor Times is expected to be on select news stands April 15, but we continue to need your help to make the free, monthly publication successful.
For more than 10 years I've been told how important hunting and fishing is in the Mid-Ohio Valley and how hunters and fishermen would like to have a publication tom showcase their activities.
Well, this is their chance.
The Mid-Ohio Valley Outdoor Times is for the local hunting and fishing enthusiast to use to see results of the hunting and fishing.
Send your photos as a .jpg image to jsmith@OhioValleyOutdoors. com with descriptive information about the photo. But don't stop with just photos. If you have an idea for a news story or had an interesting experience in the outdoors you'd be willing to share with our readers, drop me an email about that, too.
The special edition only will be able to showcase fishing and hunting activities in The Valley if readers submit their ideas, photos and tips.
Contact Jim Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org