As we saw yesterday:
Columbia residents — homeowners and renters, churches and nonprofits, businesses and schools — will pay for the area’s struggling bus system through an increase on their power bills
City Council approved the increase Tuesday night with a 5-2 vote after a contentious, two-hour public hearing that included a retired Detroit cop calling council members “enlightened despots” and a retired federal prosecutor asking council members to slap him if he got too excited “because I promised my wife I would behave up here.”
The city charges SCE&G a 3 percent franchise fee for the right to run power lines in the public right of way. SCE&G passes that fee along to its customers. Tuesday night, City Council members increased the fee to 5 percent. The amount of the fee varies by customer, depending on the size of a customer’s bill. A charge of $100, for example, would be assessed a $5 franchise fee.
Hey, at least the ex-cop called them “enlightened,” huh? She thinks the city’s leaders don’t get it, saying, “Voters told you ‘no’ to a tax hike. You lost.” What she doesn’t get is that the city has a responsibility to provide this service, and if one way of paying for it doesn’t pan out, the council has to find another way. Besides, as Tameika Devine explained, voters in the city voted for the referendum.
Anyway, as I said before, the slight majority of Richland County voters who turned down a perfectly workable, practical way of paying for the service left city council with little choice. No, I take that back: The city could have chosen to be irresponsible, and let county council continue to carry the burden with its unpopular vehicle tax. But that would not have been a long-term solution. And by “long-term,” I mean a solution that lasts until the referendum is placed on the ballot again, and passes.