Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Taxes, Lack of Services Fuel Secession Drives SPLINTERING CITIES

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Taxes, Lack of Services Fuel Secession Drives SPLINTERING CITIES

Article excerpt

THE idea of a tax revolt is at least as old as the Boston Tea Party. But rather than pitching tea into the sea to protest taxes, residents of this small community in Dade County marched to the ballot box on April 11 to throw off county government by incorporating to form their own city.

Citing high taxes, slack services, and unresponsive bureaucracies, a growing number of communities nationwide are taking government into their own hands. Secessions are occurring from giant entities like Los Angeles County and small towns from Missouri to Maine.

"We were contributing $14.5 million per year to the county in taxes but were only receiving $7.5 million in services," says Ken Cohen, the executive vice president of Aventura Inc., the community organization that helped put the issue on the ballot. "It was frustration at not being able to make basic decisions about how this money was being spent that really propelled the movement," Mr. Cohen says.

Incorporation was not a controversial issue for this affluent community's 19,000 residents: 85 percent voted for the measure. But the idea has drawn the ire of some in Dade County.

Although the Aventura plan will likely get the approval it needs from the County Commission, two commissioners have introduced ordinances to make forming a city more costly and time-consuming.

Incorporation critics have long held that the flight of wealthy neighborhoods could leave poorer, unincorporated areas without enough tax revenue for services such as police and parks.

But affluent communities aren't the only ones with inklings of independence. Destiny, a middle-class community of 69,000 in Dade County, is also considering incorporation. Residents say they are even willing to pay more for services -- just for the right to decide directly how their dollars will be spent.

And Richmond Heights, Mo. …

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