Mission, Kansas, a tiny sector of the massive Kansas City metro sprawl, has bad roads and not enough money to make them, um, less bad. The solution? A so-called “transportation utility fee,” which has been informally dubbed the “driveway tax”: the number of trips that begin or end on your little strip of concrete will be guesstimated, and you will write your check accordingly. It’s about as popular as you’d think it might be.
An unsigned editorial at KansasCity.com asks:
Should the fee be the same for big houses as well as small homes? And what of the wisdom of imposing a fee on trips, one that would rise with inflation. Would critics be right in branding it a freedom-of-movement tax?
Mission has been plotting this for about a year now. A pertinent passage from Council minutes:
Robert Hartman, Hartman Hardware, stated that he does not believe that a Transportation Utility Fee has been authorized in the State of Kansas. Mr. Scanlon [City Administrator] stated there is no legislation that currently prohibits the City from doing this so Home Rule may be exercised to establish the Transportation Utility.
Or, as suddenly-single Al Gore might say, there is no controlling legal authority. Once they invoke this sort of justification, you know they’re emotionally wedded to the concept, and if they don’t get what they want, there will be the local equivalent of threatening to shutter the Washington Monument.
Mr Hartman, from the hardware store, commented at the time that the city is “taxing him to death.” This is, after all, one of the things that governments do best.