Water metering not simply a tax grab

There may be reasons to criticize the metering effort in terms of its troubled implementation but not in terms of the principle involved.

Dear Editor:

Last week, you published a letter criticizing our local government for its effort to meter water usage in Summerland and charge people on the basis of their consumption.

There may be good reason to criticize that effort in terms of its  troubled implementation but not in terms of the principle involved.

Apparently,  last week’s correspondent thinks that any revenue collected by government is a tax. Hence, any attempt to put in a more rational pricing scheme for public services — including fee for service where it can be done — is simply another revenue grab.

This argument is woefully simplistic and does great disservice to an important debate.

Where the technology exists to charge me for my particular water consumption habits rather than have my neighbour subsidize me — or vice versa — I see absolutely no argument in support of the current flat fee system.

Indeed, I am surprised our critic did not go on to suggest that we should stop metering electricity consumption as well and simply move to a per capita charge.

The broad debate about levels of taxation generally is far too important to be trivialized by a muddled argument aimed at user fees.

Years ago, the Secretary of the Treasury Board in Ottawa (the federal government department concerned with expenditure management) had a sign over his desk which read, “Any government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you’ve got.”

Think about it.

Mark R. Daniels

Summerland

 

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