The City of Salem, in Oregon, is charging for service to its property owners that they know they do not provide, and some of those charges are monstrous. The City of Salem is legally responsible for raising taxes for “general services” that they provide. City fees, on the other hand, must be charged for specific services and only those services. These are more like user fees.
Salem’s Mayor and City Council, in the last several years, have had a problem raising taxes; the problem is they needed voter approval for many of the general services they wanted to provide.
So the City of Salem started shifting the costs to property owners using “fees,” constantly raising those fees on properties they know that they do NOT provide services for, often to use those illegally raised funds for non-related general services. In this way they could perpetrate a scam on their citizen, illegally raising funds without raising taxes– without voter approval or any accountability– all for their pet projects.
This is how they can raise funds (but not taxes) and the citizens will never need to provide public approval, which is a basic requirement for an honest government.
So they get their original funding from the voters for services that they think will pass in a vote, then they seed their unethical projects that they don’t believe the citizens will approve, by charging illegal increases in property fees.
Legally when you charge fees on property that you do not provide services for, this is a basic violation of the Constitution.
The 18th Amendment of the United States Constitution prohibits the federal, state, and local governments of the United States, or any other government…from imposing excessive bail, excessive fines…in any part of the US, on US property.
The issue is very clear: You can not charge for service you do not provide. If you could, we would all pay many charges for services we are never provided.
We ask that the City of Salem follow the laws and not make us pay for services the City does not provide. The City of Salem needs to charge for the service they provide, and do so in an honest, transparent manner.
We have contacted the Mayor and City of Salem offices many times and several officials have come back and said they know it is not right, but there is nothing that they can do. Is it right that they look the other way when the city they run is perpetrating an accounting scam on its property owners and citizens?
The reason the City of Salem refuses to deal with this ethically is because they know they could lose millions of dollars of income that they have already illegally charged over many years in the past. So they continue to break the above mentioned law, and many others, and then target those who demand honesty and accountability in our own government (something required for any honest republic to function properly).
It is time we citizens stand up!
The problem is the City of Salem is putting their own goals ahead of the citizens they took an oath to serve. They openly claim in their response letters that the increased property fees will be used for general city services, flaunting their ethical violations. The City of Salem continues to increase property fees believing they will never be held accountable, and this allows them to provide funding for non-voter approved projects– projects that they internally believe the voters would not approve.
My mentor in business once told me:
“Once you spot a significant ethical failure, there are often many more behind it.”
When will the City of Salem conduct their financial affairs in an honest manner?
PS: Vote out all city officials who do not want to provide open and transparent accountability to all the citizens they serve.