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Columbus Mayor Fred Armstrong

The Mayor of Columbus says he's in favor of creative new fees which could help offset budget cuts both in his city and in the county at large.

The Mayor of Columbus says he’s in favor of creative new fees which could help offset budget cuts both in his city and in the county at large. Fred Armstrong had already come out in favor of charging a fee for trash disposal, saying he understands there will be a backlash from a populace which has never paid a separate fee for garbage pickup.  But Armstrong said a recent movement organized by city landlords against a proposed $12 a month fee is short-sighted, arguing the landlords could get around a problem which is one of their main concerns – tenants leaving their homes unexpectedly and leaving landlords to pay utility costs.

“Collect 24 dollars up front from them for a deposit,” the mayor suggested. “If [tenants] walk out, [landlords] ought to know in a month that their people are gone.  They lose a month, but they’ve got their $12 deposit that they can pay the utility bill – and the sanitation bill would be attached – and it would work.”

The mayor, himself a former police officer, says he’s also behind a proposal by Bartholomew County Sheriff Mark Gorbett which would levy fines against drivers who strand themselves by attempting to ford areas of high water in their vehicles and subsequently need rescue by law enforcement personnel.

“Anybody silly enough to drive through a bunch of high water and get stuck should pay something,” Armstrong said. “I don’t know what that dollar and cent fee is, but they should pay something.  That’s stupidity.”

The mayor admits some fee proposals could go too far, but says a time of great economic stress requires creativity on the part of both lawmakers and their constituents.

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