Be extra careful when you drive through the Houston suburb of Missouri City!  Starting in March, those drivers at fault in car crashes will be charged as much as $2000, to pay for first responders.  This fee is being imposed by the Missouri City Fire Department.

According to KHOU, Missouri City Fire Chief Russell Sander believes this fee will help “plug holes” in the city’s budget.  At last, some refreshing honesty from our local governments!  This isn’t so much a fee as it is a tax, to help the city’s bottom line!  It’s not really about discouraging reckless driving or saving lives.  Oh no, this is about the budget.

Citizens interviewed in the KHOU story are rightly incensed.  First responder service is something Missouri City taxpayers are already paying for.  According to Chief Sander, the fee will be billed to insurance companies, and the thinking is that really, drivers at fault won’t feel the pinch.  Perhaps not immediately, but the extra costs will have to be covered somehow, and insurance companies need to meet their “bottom lines” just as the city does.  Furthermore, if insurance doesn’t pick it up, this is an out-of-pocket fee for individuals who may already be out a significant amount of money in the event of an accident.

Missouri City officials estimate that this could bring in around $50,000 a year for the city’s coffers.  Let’s hope they aren’t banking on that, and already have plans to budget for that extra cash.  There is no guarantee that there will be a sufficient number of accidents to cover all the “holes” in the budget, much less guarantee a greater bottom line.

This “crash tax” is a total wreck of an idea.