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The budget battle is raging in St Paul. Who knows if they will get it done by the May 18th deadline or we will be looking at another shutdown and extra special sessions. At the same time, smaller county, district and city units are trying to figure out what to do with less. An idea making the rounds is to bill people when the police or rescue squads head out.

The debate seems to range from fees for everything to ranking the needs and cause for the calls. Seems like a slippery slope when there needs to be a determination of if someone should be billed. It could lead to people not calling over the fear of being billed. It also makes you wonder why we pay taxes? Aren’t the police and firefighters the basic parts of what society provides?

I remember visiting the Newport mansions as a kid and hearing stories about a system that was based on payment. Basically, if you paid the fire department, they were there when you had a fire. If not, the trucks would show up and watch the place burn down. It was a way to remind everyone about the importance of the payment.

There are laws for people who waste the police and firefighters’ time with crank calls or outright lies. The occasional fake kidnapping or runaway some times get charged that way so it seems like adding a cost when people need help really isn’t the best way to go.

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