Editorials

Spirit of giving away your taxes lives on after Belleville Township dies

The Ghost of Belleville Township Past is alive and well, with Belleville city leaders getting in the holiday giving spirit with your property tax dollars.
The Ghost of Belleville Township Past is alive and well, with Belleville city leaders getting in the holiday giving spirit with your property tax dollars. Photo illustration

After Belleville city leaders decided they needed more property taxes for pensions, they also had a chat about the charity functions they absorbed from Belleville Township. That chat sure sounded like it was setting the stage for the inevitable government creep that comes from spending other people’s money.

Belleville is seeking $264,375 in property taxes to support its new charity duties. That includes $150,675 for helping the needy and $113,700 for “general.” Translate that “general” as the cost of having a government worker hand out gift cards and other charity.

They averaged 40 people a month seeking help, about what the old township handled. The maximum they give is $245 a month. That is $117,600 a year, so they are taxing $33,075 more than they are likely to need.

That also means they are taxing you $2.25 for every $1 in help they hand to a needy person.

The herculean, multi-year effort to rid taxpayers of Belleville Township created some improvements. The useless layer of government charged $4 in overhead for every $1 given to a needy person out of the $488,000 in taxes they sought three years ago.

But government remains an inefficient vehicle for charity. That $33,075 Belleville is seeking above the demonstrated need is government again taking everything they might need. Belleville Township did a whole lot of that, which is how they wound up with a reserve fund that is now at about $805,000.

So why doesn’t the city hand out that reserve fund to the needy, and give taxpayers a break?

Alderman Ken Kinsella said they need to be ready for a disaster. Mayor Mark Eckert said that reserve might be used for a new handicap bathroom at the current home of city charity efforts, 512 W. Main St.

And Eckert said all the calls for help coming in on Fridays might mean they need to take one of the two part-time workers and make her full time.

Government creep. More workers getting public pensions. Being everything to everyone. Needing $2.16 to hand $1 to a needy person.

Your tax dollars are going into a bathroom. Listen for the flushing sound.

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