Dear PoP – What’s Up With Fenty’s Street Lamp Tax?

Street Lamp, originally uploaded by NavindaK.

“Dear PoP

I was watching the news at 11 pm last night and happen to catch the report on Mayor Fenty’s planned legislation of having residence pay an extra $4.25, business’s pay $16.00, and other pay $42.00 for streets lights. I consider this a light tax. I also find this absolutely crazy seeing as most of the lights are out to begin with (grant circle). What about the elderly and financially challenged? $4.25 seems like a small amount but over a years time it could add up to someone’s medication or other more needed items. I have already called Councilwoman’s Bowser’s office and Councilman Graham’s office as well as the Mayor office. Is there any chance you might could look into this and see what other information you can come up with. Supposedly its up to Councilman Graham to whether this legislation will move forward.”

The City Paper wrote about this earlier in the week:

“Now, the proposed legislation pumps all of this money into a separate streetlight fund to be held separate from the city’s general operating fund—so there’s little danger the city will use your streetlight money to, say, pay for potholes. Also, the language provides that low-income residents can get assistance paying the fee from the city energy assistance office.”

Anyone think this “light tax” is a good idea? Shouldn’t our regular taxes pay for this sort of thing?

19 Comment

  • It is up to an enterprising reporter to realize that every single penny of this new tax that goes into a streetlight fund gets sucked right back out to pay for another agency’s needs! Budget BS. Dedicated, my aunt fannie.

  • Sadly, this doesn’t surprise me at all. Its like a Mayor Quimby tax proposal. Also, its amusing that posh neighborhoods get lots of nice lights, and us folks in the hood get minimal standard lights. So we all get to pay the same for differing service. Ahh DC.

  • If I don’t pay, will they PLEASE turn off the one that shines into my bedroom? That’d be awesome, thanks.

  • Hey, outside of DC they will probably have to start turning out the lights entirely. MD, VA, and all the other places have enormous deficits that they aren’t close to covering. Meanwhile, this city is now running a AAA credit rating and fixing up every school within the next 5 years. For all the negative out there, you guys should focus on some of the positive and this particular jurisdiction is a bright spot these days……. a tax is a tax whether it’s a tax increase, a service fee, or a fine. Doesn’t matter what you call it, you’ll be paying it one way or another. This is a complete nonissue.

  • If you believe anything Fenty or DC gov is saying you are probably new to the city. The problem is these funds are already being collected via current taxation, and any funds collected under the proposed taxation will be misappropriated (a nice word for corruption). Its a scam, they might as well say “water tax” or “air tax”, the goal is just to get extra cash into the system.

  • If this translated into accountability and service I wouldn’t object in the least. That is to say, if the lights functioned the way they’re supposed to, if new lights were added where they’re needed, and if lights are repaired in a timely fashion, it is $4.25 well spent.

    However, this is Washington, DC and there’s no way this will be well spent. I am sure Fenty will hire one of his friends to be the new administrator of street lights and that he or she will get a posh office, gaggle of assistants and of course a driver, because the DC Street Light Administrator will be too busy to drive him or herself around the city looking at all the pretty lights… likely on his or her way home to a nice place in the burbs, Maryland or Virgina. It is equally likely that some mid-level government employee has threatened to sue for having been denied his opportunity at a little corruption… it’s tough when you’re the only one around the office water cooler without a Bentley, Fabergé egg collection and Gucci shoes.

    More seriously, a few months ago there was a shooting in the alley. The police BARELY responded. However, some days afterward most of the streetlights in our alley went out. I submitted an online service request… NADA. I called 311… Nothing. So, I started calling the police. How is it acceptable in an alleyway that just experienced a shooting for the lights to be out; we might as well fire the police and hand the city over to the criminals.

    Long story short, if this had any potential to improve life, I’d be all for it, but it is just another way to reward a FOF (friend of Fenty) or give some dimwit DC employee an all expense paid trip to paradise.

  • I hear they’re charging by the photon, which seems totally unfair to those of us who only deal in waves. Personally, I’d rather live in a dark city than bandy about checking photon-guages every five minutes. Just my $.02

  • “business’s pay $16.00”

    This doesn’t make sense. Business’s WHAT pay $16.00?

  • See, this is why we need some republicans in city government. They would vote this measure down because it is unfair to businesses and to citizens. I have those crappy street lights in my neighborhood and their is probably only 2 of them on my street. Why should I pay for those pretty lights you guys have in NW when I have NJ turn pike lights in my hood? Whatever… Fenty is getting on my nerves. Instead of raising taxes he needs to fire some city employees and reduce entitlement programs.

  • They’re also increasing business licensing fees (or is it permit fees?).
    How about firing some of those incompetent, undereducated, semi literate workers in DCRA?

  • How about we stop the horribly corrupt lifetime DC residents turned government workers from stealing from us. They seem to think all government is an open checkbook instead of a collection of garnished wages from the productive members of their little society. The CIO scandal, etc., just pisses me off to no end because we are a small city, not a state, so these embezzling crimes really hurt our budgets.

  • Death by a thousand tiny cuts.

  • Actually, it’s $51 a year for District residents (that $4.25 is per month). I would like to know if blind folks and agoraphobics are allowed to opt out?

    Oh and you think this is bad, how about the $2.1 million that is going to subsidize operating costs for the parking garage at DCUSA?

  • This should come as no surprise. Show me a country/city/state, etc that is well run by black people. From Detroit to Haiti to Zimbabwe, all these places are experiencing the same issues. Poor water quality? Check. Poor schools? Check. Inept corrupt gov’t? Check. Rampant crime and violence? Check. The only thing separating DC from Zimbabwe is that DC is not in Africa. Now before any of you call me racist, I am black. I am just willing to say it as I see it.

  • Here’s a Washington Post article that explains a bit more about new fee/tax increases in the Mayor’s budget

  • I hate to think we will be hit with separate taxes on each line item in the City’s budget. It’s just ignorant is what it is.

  • Nate, your self-hatred is sad. You need therapy. Also visit Botswana.

  • I wish they would at least crank up the output.

    Ours have been painted by idiot apartment dwellers who cant spring the extra $5 for opaque window shades

  • Would blind Washingtonians have to pay the proposed Street Light User Fee?


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