On Monday afternoon, Senator Bob Casey held a press conference atop the levy in Forty Fort where he blasted the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers for their delay in reporting the damage to our levy system back in September. During the record flooding, the levy along with its wall sustained heavy damage due to the Susquehanna River reaching a record level of 42 feet. Casey wants the Army Corp of Engineers to release their findings so the federal government can dig into their already empty pockets to provide us with money to fix the levy damage. It appears that there is a boat load of federal dollars to pay for the repairs. Don't get me wrong here, I am in favor of the Feds helping out when it is needed, but do we really need all of their money?
Back in 2009, Luzerne County instituted their infamous "Bogus" Levy Fee. You all know how much of a fan I am of this tax! Everyone who lives in the Agnes Flood area gets whacked an average of $75.00 a year to allegedly maintain and repair the levy system along the Susquehanna River. My question here is what exactly is the county doing with this money? It appears that it is not being used to repair and maintain the levy because we now need federal money to accomplish that mission. This bothered me so much I started to dig into some information and came up with some staggering numbers. In the Agnes Flood plain of 1972, there are approximately 60,000 households whose inhabitants are paying the "Bogus" Levy Fee. If you do the math, that means Luzerne County rakes in around $4,500,000.00 a year if everyone pays this tax. Since the tax was first collected in 2010, "We The People" have dished out $9,000,000.00 for the maintenance and repair of the levy system. Add another $4.5 million for 2012 and they will now have $13,500,000.00 in the levy coffers. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING WITH ALL OF THIS MONEY? I don't think I've ever seen anyone cutting the grass on the levy let alone doing repairs! I dug even deeper to take a look at the 2010 Luzerne County Budget only to find $0.00 next to every line item under the Levy category for revenue. I can't find this levy fee money anywhere on the 21 pages in the revenue portion of this budget. WHAT! WHAT! ARE YOU FREAKIN' KIDDING ME! Where the hell are they putting this money?
The next question you have to ask is how much are these levy repairs going to cost? The Army Corps of Engineers has been dragging their feet on the report which has led to a major delay in the repairs. They did say that the structural integrity of the levy is good and most of the repairs will be somewhat minor. What this tells me is the cost should not be astronomical to get these repairs completed. Can we use our "Bogus" Levy Fee money to administer the repairs? My guess would be a big fat NO! Hell, I can't even find this money in the 2010 budget that the county has posted on their web site! Instead, we will latch on to the teat of the federal government to foot the bills for the repairs of the levy. Our "Bogus" Levy Fee was put into place for times just like this. Our Levy Tax money might not be able to fund all of the repairs, but I'm sure it would handle some of them. It's time to pony up but my guess would be the county won't. Now I know when I say "Bogus" Levy Fee, it's really true.
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