I’m like most of you – show me a reasonable, fact-based explanation of need – and you have my support.
Having spent most of my adult life in municipal government, I get it better than most. Sometimes we must collectively bite the bullet and kick-in for a neglected public infrastructure project – like roads or water distribution improvements.
If the actions of our elected officials comport with their rhetoric – in other words, if the government entity requesting funding lives within their means and generally serve as good stewards of our tax dollars – We, The People, will step up and do our part to pay for quality public services and upgrades.
This is especially true when user tolls or impact fees can be used to pay the freight without increasing our taxes.
But, tell me a lie and you’ve lost me forever.
In this weird Land of Oz we inhabit, our elected officials are manipulated like a troop of marionettes by a little man who works the controls of government as directed by a clique of politically influential power brokers.
As a result, nothing is truly as it seems, and time-and-again we fall victim to anther bait-and-switch scheme which erodes our confidence and leaves us questioning literally everything our County government does and says.
It is increasingly obvious that those we have elected to represent our interests are mere tools of a much more powerful shadow system. Every time County Manager Jim Dinneen launches another sneak attack – his patented “public policy by ambush” that I’ve crowed about ad nauseum – our County Council members are left looking just as flummoxed as the rest of us hapless dupes.
That shouldn’t be, but it is.
And when fools like me have the temerity to question his motivation, Little Jimmy comes back before his “bosses” with his hat-in-hand, stares at his wingtips, and explains that he has an “ethical obligation” to keep everyone in the dark, work out the important details behind closed doors, ensure all the right recipients of public funds are in position, then throw a surprise party so as not to create “confusion” during the early stages of any project – even when that project is a proposed $260-million courthouse/office complex that will be the most expensive undertaking in the history of Volusia County.
Or a $12-million-dollar airport renovation. . .
In my view (and that of our High Sheriff Mike Chitwood), Jim Dinneen is a congenital liar – a crooked screw-worm with the situational integrity of a broke-back snake, who has no qualms telling people what he thinks they want to hear.
Then, when people catch wind of his bullshit – Jimmy salves everything over with talk of his “ethics” and “obligations” – professional qualities he read about somewhere, yet lacks the basic ability to comprehend in a public service context.
On Saturday, the Daytona Beach News-Journal published an interesting piece announcing Mr. Dinneen’s autonomous implementation/Council rubberstamp of a $2.50 per day “airport user fee” on car rentals originating at Daytona “International” Airport.
It’s no secret that our “leadership” in Deland never met a tax – or a revenue stream – that they didn’t embrace like a ratty Teddy bear.
“Who cares, Barker?”
“We live here you asshole! We don’t rent cars at the airport – so why not let those luckless rubes who bought the Danica Patrick ads pay for our airport renovations whenever they pick-up a mid-size economy sedan at DIA?”
Hey, I agree. Sounds like the perfect scam to me – put the burden on tourists and business travelers. I get it. And like airport officials said, “Everybody’s doing it.”
Where I have a problem is the weird connection between renovation costs and the revenue estimates generated by this user fee.
Over the weekend, a smart friend of mine sent me the arithmetic on the numbers provided in the News-Journal piece. Specifically, Volusia County told us that the fee, “. . .is expected to generate $850,000 a year for the airport that will (be) used to help fund a number of interior and exterior projects for the near future.”
According to Little Jimmy’s always “Over-the-Top, Biggest and Bestest” rule of mass communications, “This rental car fee is part of a larger strategy. We have a plan in place that we are moving forward with to modernize our airport and it will be second to none when it’s done.”
Wow. Second-to-none. Again.
So, my friend took the liberty of doing the math: $850,000 per year, divided by 365-days, equals $2,328.76 a day, on average. Divide that by the $2.50 per car user fee – and airport agencies would need to rent an average of 931 cars per day.
That’s a butt-load of cars.
Because I’m a mathematical illiterate – I asked another smart friend to check what my grandmother used to call, the “ciphering.”
The figures were spot-on.
In addition, my suspicious friend estimated that all the rental companies doing business at DIA have a combined inventory of approximately 250 cars on-site.
So, if you take all the cars in inventory – and apply the national rental average of 25-days per car, per month – that’s 300 rental days per year/per car – or 75,000 rental days on total inventory each year.
According to my calculations – if the entire vehicle inventory were rented virtually all the time – the airport user fee will only generate approximately $187,500 annually.
So, what gives?
Where is the additional +/- $662,500 per year Little Jimmy’s administration promised?
I’ll give you two guesses – and the first one doesn’t count.
Ultimately, the bulk of the cost will be borne by you and me – the taxpayers of Volusia County – to renovate a perfectly beautiful, and serviceable, airport with just three major carriers in residence.
Folks, this is the ne plus ultra example of what I call the “bullshit factor” in any Volusia County revenue estimate, and it is Jim Dinneen’s stock-in-trade.
He will lie to us – on the front page of the newspaper – when the truth would serve him better.
Once again, Sheriff Chitwood was right – Dinneen is a “lying sack of shit.”
How sad that our elected officials must sit idle and watch, powerless to do anything substantive to remedy Mr. Dinneen’s near-continuous missteps, gaffs and outright lies.
That’s what happens when you sell your soul for a campaign contribution.
Word to the wise: Look for more of it – piled higher and deeper – in the lead-up to the one-cent sales tax “gloom-and-doom” snow job that we will all be hearing more about very soon.