13 July 2010

The Problem With Mandates

It's one thing to demand a significant and expensive change. It's another to refuse to pay for the changes you demand.
A new storm water management fee is costing commercial property holders in the District, but the city's largest property owner and the instigator of the levy -- the federal government -- has suggested it is exempt.


D.C. Water said it expected the federal government, as the largest property owner in the city, to owe $2.1 million in fiscal 2010, the first full year of billing, and $3.2 million in 2011, about 19 percent of what the utility needs to collect that year.

D.C. Water, formerly known as WASA, is mandated to improve the system by a federal consent decree it agreed to in 2003 after being sued by the Environmental Protection Agency and environmental advocates.
The GAO apparently believes that this $2.1 million tab is a tax. Bumpkiss. It's a bill. The District is has to pay for the upgrades and, like any reasonable entity, is passing a portion of the fees to its customers.

Worse comes to worst, the GAO could find a way to roll the amount due into currently available funding and call it a day.

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