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Natick trying to pluck the chickens

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Rob Boudrie, May 14, 2019.

  1. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    The town of Natick apparently will stoop so low as to go after high school students to balance the budget. The school committee is counting on making $70K in parking fees to use for other programs.

    Natick schools counting on $70K in parking fees to bolster budget

    Two problems:

    1) They express some concern about the Laffer Curve, but fail to recognize how much $200 - $300 is to a high school student, even in a pricey town like Natick.

    2) More importantly, they are failing to comprehend that this is a direct violation of Emerson College v. Boston, and even brag about that violation (raising fees for other purposes). From Emerson v. Boston: Emerson College v. City of Boston established that a fee is a charge “collected not to raise revenue but to compensate the governmental entity providing the services for it expenses”. This means that a charge that functions like a tax is a tax, and subject to Prop 2 1/2. I expect my letter to the editor to be published in a couple of days and hope someone takes the bait.
     
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  2. JJ4

    JJ4 NES Member

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    I'm pretty sure they do the same thing with facility rental/usage fees. Those fees should go towards paying down the debt for building the facility. They put artificial turf field in and then can rent it out for more money, and use that money for whatever they want while the taxpayers are still paying for the field for 20 years.


    Edit: Even worse - they borrowed money to build a new fire station with a debt exclusion override. Taxpayers are paying the interest to borrow the money. Since they haven't started construction, they put the money in an interest bearing account and earned interest on it, which they used to balance the operating budget. Unreal.
     
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  3. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    Agreed on the above, but the parking, combined with the Natick school officials braying about how it is a "revenue generator" rather than "to pay for plowing of the student portion of the lot" is a perfect setup to an Emerson slapdown. First thing, every student who buys a parking sticker should send a certified letter stating his/her claim, and that the ultra vires fee was paid under protest.

    Screw letting 16 year olds vote. Let them cut their teeth on civil litigation against city hall for the senior public service project.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  4. centermass181

    centermass181 NES Member

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    NHS class of 1991 was the first to pay for parking at the HS. I dont remember how much it was, it was alot though. Funds were suppose to be used for the Yearbook.
     
  5. Glockster30

    Glockster30 NES Member

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    Good, let them pay. Maybe it will cause them to think twice about big government, taxes, and socialism when they get older.
     
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  6. Asaltweapon

    Asaltweapon NES Member

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    Eff em.
    Like what is stated above pissing them off might be a great angle to change their thought process.
     
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  7. ISOTOX

    ISOTOX NES Member

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    Maybe they need to let 16 year olds vote in Natick. [rofl]
     
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  8. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    If the town can come for someone else with an illegal charge because they need the money, it can come for me next.
     
  9. Choctaw

    Choctaw NES Life Member NES Member

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    I saw on the news recently that a city (I believe it was in NY or NJ) is releasing an app to make everyone a deputized meter maid. You just take a pic of the car parked illegally and the city will mail them a citation.
     
  10. Dennis in MA

    Dennis in MA NES Member

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    Hold on. How fricken big is Nodick High? $90K/$200 = 450 cars. CARS! I was in a class of 200 in 1987. There might have been 50-75 cars parked in the lot. For a school of (math. . . . times four. . . .carry the one) 800 kids. By that math, Natick High is 1200 kids per class???? Almost 5K kids??

    Are that many more kids driving these days??
     
  11. JayMcB

    JayMcB NES Member

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    Algonquin charges $125 per term for a parking pass. After being assaulted by property and excise taxes, I thought that was an extra little fvck you from the town. total moneygrab/ripoff.

    I made my daughter pay it out of her part time job, and she has developed a sudden notice and subsequently a loathing for any/all taxes. It 'wasn't fair'. I've since suggested that she should have to pay the sales tax on the lease payment and the excise tax on the vehicle she drives....but I haven't gotten quite that mean yet
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  12. GaryO

    GaryO NES Member

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  13. namedpipes

    namedpipes NES Member

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    And if you're not paying for parking, you're paying for the bus.
     
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  14. JJ4

    JJ4 NES Member

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    I don't think the parking raises a great Emerson issue. If I understand correctly, Emerson was about "is it a fee or is it a tax" and basically said fees had to be assessed in relation to using a service, and that service had to be voluntary. If you assess a fee for simply existing, it's really a tax. (The case was asking could the City of Boston charge Emerson College a fire protection fee - a great read and should be on everyone's legal list).

    In the parking case:
    - The fee is associated with using a service, and may even be justifiably proportional to the cost of building and maintaining the parking lot.
    - The fee is voluntary - nobody is forced to park there. You can walk or bike for free, or get dropped off, or take a bus (yes, another fee!).
    - The fact that they intend to use the money for other purposes doesn't come into play with Emerson - in fact in the Emerson case they were justifiably stating that the money would be used to fund the fire protection.

    I think a better Emerson case can be made from building department fees. As far as I can tell, most building departments generate revenue in excess of their expenses, generating a profit for the town's general fund (of which, ironically, the schools probably take 60% of!). Fees are set not in relation to the cost to provide the service, but on a "how much can we get away with charging" basis.
     
  15. Uzi2

    Uzi2 NES Member

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    Paying for parking? Almost unheard of around here.

    I've paid a total of $4.00 in the past seven years to park. $2.00 at an airport (I arrived early to pick someone up and just ran over the free time limit) and $2.00 feeding a meter at a public parking lot while attending my grandson's commissioning as a 2LT at his college.
     
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  16. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    "Used for the Yearbook" is an admission to a violation of Emerson College v. Boston.

    Yearbooks are generally self-funding of the printing via sales. What they probably meant was "will pay for the faculty member's supplemental pay for serving as advisor to the yearbook staff."

    Keep watching the Metrowest Daily News and I'm not referring to the letter to the editor I submitted. :D

    I ain't got no dog in this fight, but sometimes you have to stand up for what is right.
     
  17. MisterHappy

    MisterHappy NES Member

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    On the 16 yard line, shootin' for the Lewis!
    Win.

    My younger kid had his own ride for junior and senior year. He went around the school's neighbors, and left notes on doors: I'll shovel your driveway, if I can park here during school."

    By the time he got home, he had a taker. And, the spot was closer than the student parking lot. [laugh]
     
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  18. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    Only the maintenance part, and only for that portion of the lot being rented out to students for use.

    The town owns the lot and has incurred debt to pay for it. If it charges taxpayers a fee for the capital expense, it would have to dedicate those funds to that expense (i.e., making an early principal payment on the construction bonds; using it to maintain the lot; or segregating those funds for that purpose), not use it for general revenue. Read Emerson v. Boston carefully. The court said fees are “collected not to raise revenue but to compensate the governmental entity providing the services for its expenses”. Statements by Natick officials leave little doubt that the motivation for this so-called fee was to raise revenue.

    And then there is the issue of establishing an Enterprise Account to track the money to assure that it is only used for what is being charged for and nothing else. Towns commonly do this with garbage and any surplus, if any, is maintained in the account for the provision of the service and not shifted to the general fund.

    Finally, there is the record of the town meeting in which those who witnessed the discussion by public officials heard NOTHING about any of the funds being used to maintain the lot, and a LOT about how it will generate revenue that can be used for other projects.

    They are if Emerson v Boston is being complied with. It takes a shit stirer spending his morning commute talking to a reporter to expose this kind of thing

    And finally, there is the "voluntary" argument. For something to be voluntary, the alternative must be viable. The school is de-facto requiring students who cannot afford Uber/Lyft every day, live miles from school, and don't have rides available to pay a bus or parking fee. Yeah, this one is a bit more of a stretch but it can be credibly argued.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  19. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    As a bonus, the school lost search rights to his car (schools generally require students to "agree" to this t be allowed parking)
     
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  20. MisterHappy

    MisterHappy NES Member

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    On the 16 yard line, shootin' for the Lewis!
    I'm sure that never entered into his calculations.
     
  21. namedpipes

    namedpipes NES Member

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    THAT kid is going places in life.
     
  22. ProbAddicted

    ProbAddicted

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    The new Natick High was too small the day it opened.
     
  23. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    Unlike parking meters or $25 nominal fees, enforcing the Emerson standard on the $200 or $300 per student "fee" will likely not fall to a de minimis challenge (which I expect a protest against adding or raising rates on parking meters would).

    Unlike a previous poster, I think this fee has the makings of a good Emerson challenge - though the only issue is revenue use, as the policy preserves the required "opt out" option.

    If this one gets legs, school districts could be forced to retroactively refund these ultra vires fees to the students. But.... the Supreme Marsupial Court has always been sympathetic to the "state needs the money" doctrine as evidenced by upholding the $75 fee to confront your accuser in traffic court, or requiring parents with adult children living in the basement to provide for their criminal defense legal fees (yes, really). The court will be stuck between the law, what it wants to do, and its own precedent. rock/hard place/icky squishy place.

    The first salvo was fired today as a letter to the editor in the Metrowest Daily News (though it does not appear to be on the web site yet). The next one will occur in a few days, assuming the reporter can verify my claims and nobody in power tells him to squash the story.

    Natick High has a 30 hour public service graduation project. Working this issue would be an excellent one - civic engagement, showing respect for the law and the system, learning a lot, accomplishing some good, etc. Of course, if a student approached us wanting to volunteer for a 501(3) [comm2a] unpaid internship the board would have a serious discussion, and maybe even litigate if it was turned down for political reasons. Maybe.
     
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  24. MisterHappy

    MisterHappy NES Member

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    On the 16 yard line, shootin' for the Lewis!
    I am SO happy, that my kids did not have a "public service" project requirement. I thought that was why the War of Northern Aggression was fought! [laugh]

    I'd had it planned out - our Club is a 501-c-3 org. They've spent many hours there, and I'd attest to it.
     
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  25. vickers

    vickers NES Member

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  26. JJ4

    JJ4 NES Member

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    This would be very easy to expose - building department fees are set by selectmen. I believe they held a posted public hearing, and the minutes of their deliberations are quite detailed. The rate setting methodology was to survey surrounding towns, and after the survey they compared Natick's rates to those that they measured. The deliberations focused entirely on that Natick's fees were lower than most of the other towns, and so they were underpriced. Someone may have mentioned that the department already turned a profit, but maybe it didn't come up. I don't recall the year, probably within 2009-2014. They are probably online but my google-fu is failing me.

    The other two ingredients you need are also public records: The Fees collected and the budgets required to run the departments. E.g.:
    https://www.natickma.gov/DocumentCenter/View/1048/2012---I---Reports-from-Town-Departments-Committee-Boards--Commissions-PDF
    upload_2019-5-16_22-42-19.png
     
  27. Rob Boudrie

    Rob Boudrie NES Member

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    The law is clear on this, but even so, a case could be lost based on the "cuz revenue" doctrine.
     
  28. ProbAddicted

    ProbAddicted

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    They need to be more concerned about not showing up on the teachers gone wild thread.
     
  29. 67ray

    67ray NES Member

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