Thursday, December 29, 2005

Would that be a user fee or a tax, sir? 

Courtesy of Anoka Flash, we find that the People's Republic of St. Paul is looking at a fee on college students.
St. Paul's colleges and universities may feel the jolt of a tax revolt if an idea being floated by City Council Member Jay Benanav becomes a reality.
Benanav, whose ward includes the University of St. Thomas and Hamline University, is researching whether the city should charge institutions of higher education a per-student fee of $25 to pay for police and fire services. State law exempts schools and other nonprofit organizations from paying property taxes.

"Not that colleges don't add to the quality of life," Benanav said. "But we provide all sorts of public safety services that they don't pay for and that get paid for by property owners and businesses."
There are six private schools in St. Paul and five public ones. The move could net $800,000 per year. The schools of course will complain, but given the size of tuition increases recently, exactly how big a hit would they take? Benanav's move looks to me like the old Colbert adage of plucking the goose with minimum squawking and hissing.