Grappling with a $35 million budget deficit, the Sacramento City Council voted 5-to-4 last month to impose a “crash tax” on non-residents who are involved in auto accidents requiring a fire department response. A typical auto accident would result in a fee of $495 but if more department activity is needed, a non-resident driver could be billed for up to $2,275. The City of Sacramento projects the new program will generate between $300,000 and $500,000 annually.
This controversial vote by Sacramento’s City Council has ignited a backlash in neighboring areas. The chairman of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors, Matt Rexroad, has vowed to retaliate with his own ordinance charging Sacramento drivers. Yolo County Supervisor Mike McGowan urges Sacramento to reverse its decision and is calling for his constituents to boycott Sacramento. The Sacramento Bee has editorialized several times on the issue and has characterized Sacramento’s crash tax as a “train wreck” and a “30-car pile-up.” ThePress-Enterprise editorialized in favor of a statewide ban and called crash taxes “pernicious and unfair.” Bloggers are burning up their keyboards, as are readers giving feedback to media coverage. Sacramento Councilman Darrell Fong, who voted against the ordinance, reports that city hall is receiving a steady stream of calls and emails opposing the new crash tax.
This negative feedback is understandable because crash taxes are...
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