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Jim Meade / Iowa City
Senior Advisor

User Fees creeping in?

 I see that the FAA will no longer provide free access to the electronic version of the aviation charts we pilots use to navigate.  We already have to pay for the paper version, and recently the government quit selling them to Mom and Pop airports and forces everyone to go through a large conglomerator.  I suppose this reduces the paperwork the government does.  Kind of like Borg-Warner refusing to sell parts to you so you have to go to a retailer.  Of course, this make the retailers more monopolistic and thus makes them more money.

I wonder if USDA will start charging for access to the photos we currently can get for free?  That might mean we would all have to pay to use Google Earth or to see the maps of our own farms.  Do you see any examples of whether the government is trying to find ways to charge you for things that used to be considered part of their duty to provide?  Do you have to pay for land title searches, for example? 

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4 Replies
Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: User Fees creeping in?

Several years ago, the NCDA started charging $5 per sample for our manure analyses.  Costs us a bit, with three lagoons,and sampling required within sixty days of land app.  Slurry requires separate sampling, so when we drop in the honeywagon intake hose, we do that one as well. 

 

At about the same time, VDACS started charging for soil samples.  I have been expecting NC to start it ever since, but so far, so good.  

 

 

Toll roads for new construction, and putting toll plazas on present freeways, have been much discussed.    The interstate system is proving to be expensive to maintain. VA has actually privatized some roads. 

 

One thing locally is the trash collection fees.  These are tacked onto the tax bill, for any qualifying property, whether people live there and roll out a can, or not.  They always create a deficit in the county budget.  The commisioners  raised that fee a couple dollars a month for this year,,,with the addresses we own, and what's on them, Mike and I are paying $800 for two households to dispose of our garbage...us and the employee;s family.  The kids pay their own household trash pickup bill, so $1000 from this farm alone.  Ridiculous. 

 

I think we will start to see pressure to consoldiate the Extension offices in our region.  This was also rumored several years back, then the state backed off.  Our county director retired in July 2010, and hasn't been replaced...so, read that handwriting on the wall.  Attrition means less clamor, when the ax finally falls. 

 

USDA/FSA will probably follow suit, don't you think?  I know they restricted who coudldget aerials ot actual owenrs or proven tenants a year or two ago.  That is reasonable, but it does speak of cost-cutting, as well as privacy concerns. 

 

So, the equation is twofold:  Fewer services and less convenient service points, plus charges for the services we do need.  I am concerned about privatization of these functions, too.   A Google Earth map may suffice for genenral purposes, but for any legal ones, a properly scaled land map is generally required. 

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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: User Fees creeping in?

Just look at your cell phone bill.  There is a reason your $30 'plan' winds up costing $50.  In the case of our phone, the fees are almost as much as the air time!  What gets me, is the $9 a month they tack onto my $30 plan, to subsidize phone service, for those who can't afford cell phones.  That is a 30% tax (disguised as a 'fee')  I wonder if this is a flat rate fee, meaning those people with $150 a month plans pay the same, or if it is graduated?   I just wonder why I have to pay for almost 4 months of service, for someone else's phone?

The courthouse has started charging all sorts of little fees, as well.  I have become a guardian for a disabled family member, and just by its nature, that requires lots of paperwork.  Now, I get notice that there will be 'filing' fees tacked on.  On top of that, the person who does the 'filing' now, spends most of the time doing nothing (not because she is lazy, but because this is a small town, and doesn't have a lot of court activity).  Why not drop her to only certain days a week/month, and save the fees?

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Kay/NC
Honored Advisor

Re: User Fees creeping in?

Cutting back days or hours might save some money, but the truth is, it is fair to pay for services when they are performed. Why should everyone else pay for your papers to be filed? We have always paid recordations fees for legal documents to be placed in the county's public records. it is simply a cost of doing business. I agree with you on the cell phone bill fees...land lines aren't any better. Remember when some actually got a rocket scientist and a brain surgeon to try to figure out the fees on a typical phone bill, and they couldn't? We spent $7 a month for 9-1-1 services for several years vpbefore we evje had the service in our county in VA. Now, they charge an ambulance service fee every year, whether you ride in one or not. Here in NC, we pay several hundred bucks in fire service district fees every year, as a way of funding VFDs that may or may not be there if you need one. Trash pickup fees, I think I said added up to $1000 for our family's farm. The two itmes alone come close to $2000 per year for one small business. Electric cooperative adds money every month to each service bill we pay, for people who can't afford their power, and then social services pays their bill, so?
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Nebrfarmr
Veteran Advisor

Re: User Fees creeping in?

I don't mean for everyone else to pay to have my filing done, but last year, you paid one fee, per file, per visit.

Now, I bring in 4-5 papers, all together, to be put in the file at the same time.  Now, I pay $20 or $25, even though they only open the file once, and everything gets put in the same place.  The charge is the same, as if I were to make 4 or 5 separate visits, and make them open the file each time.  The 'fees' are creeping up because of this.  The funny part is, I am a guardian for a disabled family member, and the county (which charges the filing fees) refunds them to me, because they are on behalf of a disabled person.

Copy fees, I don't have a problem with, it is so much a copy, however many I want. 

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