Thursday, November 4, 2010

Secetary of State Todd Rokita Reduces Fees to Business, Rejects Mayor Ballard's Fee Raising Philosophy

I don't know about other fiscal conservatives, but I find it appalling when members of the administration of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard justify every fee increase with the argument that the fee hasn't been increased in some time. For example, the primary argument for raising parking meter fees is simply that they haven't been raised for decades. It was the same thing several months ago when the Ballard administration proposed raising scores of business fees collected by the City. A good fiscal conservative, which Ballard is clearly not, would not start with the assumption that a fee needs to be increased because it hasn't been increased for awhile.

With the Mayor Ballard's approach to fee increases in mind, I chuckled when, in the course of navigating the Secretary of State's website looking for election information I ran across a recent press release announcing reduced fees on business. Here's a portion of the press release:

"The price of starting a business in Indiana is going down this November following Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita’s recent action to decrease the registration start-up fees new business owners pay to the Business Services Division – a unit of the Secretary of State’s office.

Beginning in early November, the new business registration enhanced access fee will decrease from $10 to $5. Additionally, the enhanced access fee paid when a business purchases a certificate of existence drops from $4 to $2. The statutory fees, controlled by the General Assembly, remain the same and are among the lowest in the nation.

“We should be taking all possible steps to help get businesses to the launching pad, and reduce governmental obstacles to economic growth, especially the start-up costs that are levied on businesses,” Secretary Rokita said. “Small business owners will notice these fee reductions most. Every dollar they don’t have to turn over to government is a dollar that can be invested for future growth.”
Granted the fee reductions aren't more than a few dollars, but they represent a philosophy that is 180 degrees from the alleged Republicans who occupy the 25th Floor. If Ballard were running the Secretary of State's office - an utterly frightening thought - his people would be scouring the list of fees and figuring out how to increase those fees so he would have more money to hand out to political insiders. If someone knows the difference between the Ballard and a big taxing, big spending liberal, would they please let me know.


Grey Area said...

The difference would probably have less to do with the money raised or spent and more to do with what it is spent on. At least a big taxing, big spending liberal would have the moral high ground here, Ballard clearly doesn't even have that.

Gary R. Welsh said...

They always forget how badly retail businesses faired downtown after they last raised parking meter rates in the 1970s. It wasn't until Circle Centre Mall was built with cheap parking--actually cheaper than the meters--that downtown retail made a comeback.

dcrutch said...

I don't know of a difference, but I can't disagree with somewhat raising fees based on years of surrounding inflation. What I can't justify is millions and millions for basketball, TIFs, and serving as a bank for Lilly.

This is the main current running through the cross-demographic majority (per polling) of America: Too much goverment, too many services, too many taxes. Call them "Tea Party" people if you like. They used to be Goldwater conservatives, some are Libertarians, some are apolitcal, some Democrats, etc.

You want to make an argument that the meter increases serve as a tax increase? Possibly. But, better an increased "user fee" than tax if stuck with one or the other. Granted, it could dampen as it apparently did in the past.

IndyDem said...

Thanks Gary. thats is Exactly what I've been saying.
But to add to this. I will mention that when I renewed my business license last year the cost went up, not down. You now have to BUY the license you renew... They also have additional fees for the technology and a fee just because. All went up. So starting the business might have gone down a few dollars but the fees to renew have gone up. I guess they want to punish those who have survived the recession.

Paul K. Ogden said...


I think the approach AI takes is the correct one - what is the best rate for the public and business. You just don't assume fees need to go up because they haven't for awhile. Yet that is how the City approaches every issue.

I don't think you'll find much opposition to increasing parking rates in conjunction with new meters purchased by the city. But giving a private company the right to raise rates or doing so with the inflation rates is just not good policy. Not EVERYTHING should rise at the inflation rate. That assumption is ludicrous.

I assure you, dcrutch, meter increases and the other numerous fee and tax increases proposed by Ballard will be treated as tax increases in the 2011 election. And do you blame the Democrats? That's exactly what Ballard did in 2007.

Sean Shepard said...

You can only raise fees because you "haven't in a while" in a monopoly environment.

Imagine if a computer manufacturer or business Internet provider raised fees every once in a while just because it seemed like it was about time? They'd be eaten alive by their competition overnight.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Thanks, Sean.