We're hearing about all kinds of ideas these days for enhancing government revenues without punishing the same old victims — the payers of the property tax. Executives and legislators are having to become creative in finding new ways to pay the bills.
We knew it was coming, of course. For three years now, revenues have shrunk and expenses ballooned.
New government taxes and fees are generally anathema to the general populace. Governments should be finding ways to cut expenses first and, only after that avenue is fully exploited, find the least painful ways of raising money.
That seems to be what the Franklin County Legislature is aiming for. In a move to collect desperately needed revenue, members are considering putting a $30 monthly charge on people convicted of driving while intoxicated. The result could be $25,000 a year or more for the Probation Department.
While the suggestion may draw the usual reaction from anti-government advocates — it's still another way for government to get into our pockets — it at least targets those pockets in an effort to take some of the burden off the property-tax payer.
And whose pockets does it target? People who have intentionally broken the law. It shouldn't break anybody's heart to see a drunk driver assessed $30 a month, particularly if that amount can be kept off the property tax.
A side benefit is it may prove a slight deterrent for some people who might consider driving while intoxicated. It won't wipe out the crime, of course, but it could help some.
It reflects similar thinking that goes into the soaring taxes put on discount cigarette online products. Mind you, we're not comparing drunk drivers with smokers, but smoking cigarettes harms us all — not just the smokers — by raising the cost of health care for everyone. By increasing the cost of cigarettes, the cost of government is defrayed and smokers are coaxed into trying to quit their dangerous and costly habit. Costly for all of us.
Increasing the penalty for drunk driving is not a bad idea at all, and the outcome would be a benefit for the general population of Franklin County.
People convicted of drunk driving would be evaluated to be sure they can afford the fee. That would be a difficult call, in some cases, but Probation Director Denise McLane isn't shy about taking it on.
And if people don't pay promptly, the reinstatement of their driving privileges could be delayed. There are ways to make this work.
Clinton County already has this system in place. Franklin County could use the money, and another weapon in the arsenal against driving while intoxicated should be welcome.
It's hard to find fault with the whole idea.