In response to Jack Zaleski's column published May 20:
Unsurprisingly, Jack Zaleski doesn't know what he is talking about.
Jack claims it is illegal for the city to tax you for one purpose and then use the funds for another purpose. True, and that is exactly what special assessments do. We overcharge you for a specific project, then when that project is paid for, we take leftover dollars that you paid us out of the assessment fund and put them in the general fund. Growing the general fund is not the purpose for special assessments. Where is his outrage?
Conversely, my plan does not divert one penny from its intended purpose. First, we make utilities self-sustaining by charging what utilities actually cost. Not illegal. Then we remove the half-cent "infrastructure" sales tax we currently use to prop up those utilities and use that "infrastructure" sales tax to fund the infrastructure that specials once covered. Not illegal. That easy plan would end the need for special assessments, forever.
Zaleski touts plans by the mayor and other candidates that sound surprisingly similar, and fix nothing. Under those retreaded plans you can still be assessed out of your home, charged a 30 percent "administration" fee, pay an extra one percent on your loan, and then see your assessment dollars, intended for your "benefit," go out of the assessment fund and into the general fund. The ideas proposed by the candidates are not new, in fact they are exactly the same as the old policy that was extremely unpopular and hurt real families in Fargo.
As someone who consistently informs the public of how they are being taken advantage of by city policy, I am familiar with the paper and the good ol' boys club perpetrating their misinformation tours. When will those groups realize that people see through them? The people want real change.
If anyone but me had come up with this plan, Jack would be over the moon for it.
Gehrig is a Fargo city commissioner.