Cash-Strapped Cities Get Creative With Fees
Governments turning to extra charges to fill budget holes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2009 8:04 AM CDT
Residents of Washington, DC may soon be missing the days of free streetlights if a proposal from the mayor goes through.   (©Orin Optiglot)
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(Newser) – Cities across America are taking a page from the airlines and charging for things that used to be part of the service, the New York Times reports. "Accident response fees" charging at-fault drivers for the cost of cleaning up crash scenes are catching on, and Washington, DC is considering tacking a "streetlight user fee" onto utility bills.

Cities are also steeply hiking existing fees and becoming a lot more stringent about issuing tickets for infractions. Politicians say the extra fees are fairer—and easier for voters to swallow—than just raising taxes across the board, but critics charge that the fees have a lot more to do with filling holes in the budget than actually covering the cost of services.