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Fees and Taxes

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It used to be the only two things a person could count on in life were death and taxes. Sadly, it seems fees must be added to that popular couplet.

Everywhere people turn these days, another fee is being attached to one service or another. Credit card companies are resorting to increased fees to save the bottom line. Various airlines have started charging fees for everything from bags to blankets. And now government leaders see fees as a means to balance budgets.

It's a curious thing that politicians who rhetorically deplore tax hikes and vow to hold the line on taxes now talk so willingly about increasing fees. Apparently in their minds, fees don't hold the same stigma.

One of the most egregious local examples is a Salt Lake County proposal to impose a fee on residents in unincorporated areas of the county for police protection. Officials say it is needed to pay for the new Unified Police Department scheduled for launch January 1.

It is one thing, in KSL's view, for private industry to impose fees that consumers can choose to pay or not. But when government does it for essential services, politicians should be held accountable for imposing what amounts to a tax, although they call it a fee.

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