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Nix pay-to-play tax

July 25, 2009
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As predicted, Cape Coral's budget-cutting knife is being honed on the services side of the ledger books.

And it's twisting home for Cape families hoping to keep some level of normalcy for their kids as mom's and dad's income dwindles and costs continue to climb.

The city administration is proposing to not only cut funding for such family friendly events as the Columbus Day Parade, Red White and BOOM and the CoCoNut Fest, but is asking council to tax each child who plays youth sports.

The administration proposes to levy an "athletic fee" of $40 per child, per sport played, for residents and $80 per child, per sport, if they live outside the city limits.

The city estimates it can raise close to six figures per activity- Little League, Pop Warner, Youth Soccer - from families who also are paying league fees to cover uniforms, insurance and the cost of referees.

We do understand the Cape's budget situation is serious.

We do understand that council has demanded that the administration propose an operating budget of not more than $116.4 million and that staff incorporate a revenue stream to pay for it.

But a pay-to-play tax on kids?

That's taxing where it hurts and should be rejected out of hand.

Take another look at the budget, specifically the expense side as it relates to salaries and benefits, the single greatest collective cost. Give these expense lines, and others, the same level of attention that has been devoted to the revenue side, attention that has resulted in suggestions of a hefty increase in the property tax rate or an increase in the tax on communications and a new 10 percent tax on electric bills.

Only after the city scrutinizes cost-saving suggestions used throughout the private sector, including mandatory overtime controls, wage freezes and rollbacks, contract re-negotiations and furloughs, should the city consider cuts to core services and tax hikes.

- Breeze editorial



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