Clipped From Asbury Park Press

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 - Weighing the fees to pay cost of state...
Weighing the fees to pay cost of state government From page Al them up. The state takeover of county courts was partly funded by higher charges for filing lawsuits. Funds to support domestic violence shelters were provided through a surcharge surcharge on marriage licenses. A $1 add-on add-on add-on to auto registrations funded emergency medical evacuation helicopters. To pay for future highway construction, construction, Gov. Whitman wants to permanently permanently extend surcharges' of $15 to $40 on automobile registrations. A bill moving through the Legislature would set up a fund to buy police cars by tacking a $5 surcharge onto fines for moving violations like speeding. The state also would like to see the philosophy at other levels of government. government. An audit team that looked at the finances in Ventnor, a seaside community community in Atlantic County, criticized the city for not charging high enough fees for beach tags. There's no total dollar figure for all of the fees enacted in recent years, because they're spread among dozens of pieces of legislation and state accounts, accounts, many of which don't appear in the state budget and therefore don't show up ur the bottom line as spending. The trend has allowed legis lators and Whitman to avoid the "t- "t- word" tax and honestly report they've lowered government spending without reducing services. Indeed, a legislator who wants to expand a state service today is often pressed to find the revenue to pay for it. When a 10-year-old 10-year-old 10-year-old 10-year-old 10-year-old girl fell down a well in Colts Neck Township in Janu ary, highlighting the lack ot hinds available to deal with dangerous abandoned abandoned wells, Senate Majority Leader John 0. Bennett responded with pas sage of a bill, funded by new fees on well drilling and inspections. This movement continues even as the Department of Environmental Protection, which has for years been supported by permit fees and fines collected through a "let the polluter pay" philosophy, is being required by Whitman to move its programs and revenues onto the budget, where workers would be subject to state layoffs. layoffs. Whitman spokesman Carl Golden said the governor objected to the size of the DEP's off-budget off-budget off-budget operation, with 80 percent of its 4,000 employees employees paid for with fees or penalties. "The governor felt that was out of balance and there should be on-budget on-budget on-budget support for it, Golden said. The weights and measures fees were part of a broad-ranging broad-ranging broad-ranging $74 million million bill that also raised charges for getting a vanity license plate or a duplicate duplicate license, requesting a criminal background check on a prospective employee, or accessing an electronic . system that confirms whether someone someone is covered by Medicaid. The bill was approved by the Assembly on the same day last June as a $325 million income tax reduction. Lawmakers and the administration said at the time that many of the fees had not been raised in years, or that the cost of a new service should be borne by those who use it. Wikoff was unswayed, however. "I just laugh at the fact (Whitman is) going out and saying she's lowering lowering taxes," he said as he looked at paperwork paperwork from Weights and Measures and the bottom line of $520 due. "I guess they don't want to call it a tax. It's a fee, but to me, what's the difference? difference? "I feel they should have some kind of cap. For the very small businessman, businessman, $520 is a lot," Wikoff said. In that sense, the Fred D. Wikoff Co. is a victim of its own diversity. Lobbyists for supermarkets were able to get a cap in the fee bill of $200 per store for scales weighing under 1,000 pounds. In many stores, there's a scale at every checkout lane, and, at $20 a scale, the fees would have been enormous. "Our members knew about it; we were really involved early on with the legislation," said James Morford, president president of the New Jersey Food Council, the supermarkets' trade group. He noted that, to the extent competition allows for it, stores will likely pass the cost of the new fee on to consumers through higher prices. If David Wikoff was still dealing in just feed and grain, as his great-grandfather, great-grandfather, great-grandfather, great-grandfather, Fred D., was when he founded the business 98 years ago, then he'd have only the kind of scales that qualify qualify for the $200 cap too. But the company company now sells fuel oil, coal, diesel fuel and propane as well as enough varieties varieties of animal food to supply Noah. That means lots of measuring devices. devices. There's a vehicle scale for weighing coal deliveries (fee: $200), uun; iuci (jumps iui uicaci pw, three scales for weighing feed and propane tanks ($60), and five oil trucks ($200). "I'm not getting anything extra from Weights and Measures for this, Wikoff said, once a year." 'They still only come

Clipped from
  1. Asbury Park Press,
  2. 30 Mar 1995, Thu,
  3. Main Edition,
  4. Page 8

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