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concept while fulfilling the traditional functions of local government is a burden for

today’s government official (Withers, 1994). In lieu of increasing taxes, government

officials have turned their attention to finding other revenue sources to maintain or expand

the current level of services (Berman, 1997).

Peterson (1999) states “The general tax should increasingly be eclipsed by user

charges and fees. Although raising fees in not easy, it is easier than raising traditional

taxes” (p.21). Charging a user fee has several advantages that levying a tax does not:

Information obtained from revenue tracking can give valuable insight to the services

customers desire, who those customers are, and whether the service is being delivered

efficiently. The customer can see a direct link between the price paid and the service

received. Unless there is a subsidy from another funding source, the users of a service are

the only ones who pay for it. User fees reduce the tax subsidy to non-residents and tax-

exempt properties such as schools and churches, which may have considerable need for

services. Whereas those who do not pay taxes cannot be excluded from receiving services

financed by a general tax, only those who agree to pay user fees receive services financed

by those fees (Wither, 1994).

The researcher agrees with the advantages of user fees discussed by both Peterson

and Wither. Research has shown, however, that just as there are issues to consider when

proposing a tax increase, there are also issues that must be addressed when establishing

user fees. Berman (1997) states “Charging a fee for emergency services is controversial.

Civilians often ask how the fire department can charge for a service for which they

already pay taxes” (p.72). To such questions, elected officials and fire department

Administrators must respond honestly, explaining the differences between taxes and fees

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