Richard Holmes: The bottom line

Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 9, 2012 at 11:13 p.m.

Seems like every other day someone in these pages complains about the ogres of local government wasting tax money on non-essentials. I never see anything about other entities grabbing a chunk out of our budgets, which over a year can add up to real money.

I compared my monthly expenses with last year's and found there is a lot to complain about.

■ Gasoline: Last November I paid $3.84 a gallon. Same week the previous year I paid $3.11 per gallon. A 23 percent jump. Many complain it's the government's fault, that somehow our gas taxes are higher than other counties. Others contend fuel refineries are stifled by government regulation. I say it's the obscene profits energy companies extract from their customers.

■ Cable television: Like clockwork the local cable company raises its rates in June. This year's was 9 percent. I called to ask what I would be getting for the increase and was told nothing extra, that the rate increase covered their costs. I asked if I could expect to see improved reception in the lower channels on my TV dial but essentially was told not to hold my breath.

■ Land line telephone: My longtime carrier, the one with three letters, slipped in a 16 percent monthly increase without any fanfare. They did, however, mention in the fine print that the Universal Service Fee had gone up. This fee supports the needs of low-income households. Blaming the poor is pretty sleazy if you ask me.

■ Car insurance: I stand by a nearly flawless driving record. No infractions for decades, so I expect an insurer would find me an ideal customer. Not so from the cute little lizard with the funny accent. The notice explaining this year's 10 percent rate jump was due to the increased advertising by trial attorneys in Florida, and other economic conditions. C'mon, little lizard, you can do better than blaming the lawyers.

■ Property taxes: I'm paying $12 more for my property taxes this year than last year. Less than 1 percent more. The folks who have targeted the local, so-called “taxing three” commissioners should take a closer look at their monthly expenses and see where the money went.

Who is really picking your pocket this year? Government or big business?

Richard Holmes is employed as a reading tutor with the Alachua County School District and began the year with a 3 percent pay cut.

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