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SID Tax $$$ Used To Promote…………..

The SID!

Business owners were told at the recent SID budget hearing that one of the things the SID did for them was to purchase billboard space on the Turnpike to bring them customers.

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Nice.  Chefs International should be happy about being featured so prominently.  Not sure about the center photo but it looks to me like something that might be served at Brandls.  (Personally, when I’m spending $25 for dinner I like to see a little more food on my plate than that…..Maybe somebody already ate some of it.)

Here’s the thing, though.  An alert reader, let’s call her Miss S., went to the advertised web address, Come2Belmar.com.  Now one would expect it to take you to a page listing all the different fun ways to spend money in Belmar, right?  I’ve noticed the billboard on my way home from work and assumed it sent people to the Tourism page.

Well to her and my amazement, the link www.come2belmar.com  actually brings people to this, the SID home page!

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Where readers are told:

 The BBP is here to help you discover why Belmar is a great place to have your business. We will assist you in starting, promoting, and improving various aspects of your business. We provide free advertising to get you noticed. We have Facade grants that assist you in making your physical location more inviting to your customers. We sponsor local events bringing more visitors into Belmar. The BBP also invest in enhancing the towns overall appearance. We make Belmar look good! Contact us and let us be a friend and helping hand for your business.

 

So actually, the thousands of dollars that business owners in town were forced to put up for this billboard wasn’t spent to promote their businesses to potential customers, it was spent to sell Belmar and the SID to potential business competitors!  While it might theoretically help some commercial landlords with vacant space they want to lease, that’s a small percentage of the people who are actually paying the SID tax.  All the rest are paying to bring competitors to town who could take customers away from them.

And the town can’t understand why some business owners are less than grateful about all this.

Last Week

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Belmar’s Economic Medicine Is Killing The Patient

Despite the fact that they never seem to work as advertised, liberals never seem to run out of ideas for new programs and interventions in the name of improving the economy.  This last week saw the Council approve the injection of another $119,000 into the SID after its proponents described all the benefits we would see from its continuation.  But I would like to remind my readers that the SID is just the latest in a long line of broken promises made to residents of Belmar that we can achieve prosperity through government.  I have been living here long enough to remember some of the earlier ones:

Seaport Village

The development of Belmar Seaport Village has been a model public/private partnership with an open and community-led planning effort to obtain consensus on the needs and goals of the entire Belmar community. Gale Belmar has held several public design workshops that have led to the adoption of the Belmar Seaport Village Design Guide, which will govern all future development in this redevelopment area. Additional forums have resulted in: a Green Design program to ensure economic, social and environmental sustainability of the town; a Retail Master Plan to create a year-round shopping destination; quality streetscapes, pocket parks and green roofs that add to the quality of life of Belmar residents; and an in-depth analysis of traffic, parking and utility infrastructure.

In addition, Belmar has embarked on a town-wide Sustainability Plan to ensure the long-term economic, cultural, and environmental viability of the community. At the heart of this is The Seaport Redevelopment Plan, which will strengthen the town’s tax base, build upon New Jersey’s Smart Growth strategy and preserve and improve the natural environment of Belmar and the region.

Sustainable design is one of the most notable features of Belmar Seaport Village. Key sustainable design principles will include more efficient use of previously developed land, reducing automobile dependence, increasing pedestrian activity, improving interior and exterior air quality, decreasing storm-water run-off and reducing the use of limited natural resources. These standards are designed around the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Rating System, the nationally recognized industry standard for sustainable building.

Transit Village

The New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) and NJ TRANSIT spearhead a multi-agency Smart Growth partnership known as the Transit Village Initiative. The Transit Village Initiative creates incentives for municipalities to redevelop or revitalize the areas around transit stations using design standards of transit-oriented development (TOD). TOD helps municipalities create attractive, vibrant, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods where people can live, shop, work and play without relying on automobiles.

Municipalities that are committed to TOD may be eligible for NJDOT Transit Village designation.

The Transit Village Initiative is an excellent model for Smart Growth because it encourages growth in areas where infrastructure and public transit already exist. Municipalities must meet the Transit Village Criteria and complete a Transit Village Application in order to be designated a Transit Village

In addition to community revitalization, the Transit Village Initiative seeks to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by increasing transit ridership. Studies have shown that adding residential housing options within walking distance of a transit facility; typically a one-half mile radius, increases transit ridership more than any other type of development. Therefore, one of the goals of the Transit Village Initiative is to bring more housing, businesses and people into the neighborhoods around transit stations.

Live Where You Work

If you’re planning to buy a home in the town where you’re employed, Live Where You Work (LWYW) may be the right program for you. LWYW provides low-interest mortgage loans to homebuyers purchasing homes in the municipalities in which they work.

This means saving money on gas, tolls, and mass transit – giving you, the buyer, more purchasing power. What’s more, the extra time you’ll have to spend on your personal interests and with your family is priceless.

The goal of LWYW is to build stronger communities by promoting homeownership and encouraging people to live closer to their jobs. By working closer to home, we reduce the dependence on (and expense of!) cars, and increase the use of alternate transportation such as walking, biking and public transit.

Sustainable Jersey

Sustainable Jersey is a certification program for municipalities in New Jersey that want to go green, save money and take steps to sustain their quality of life over the long term. Launched in 2009, we are a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that provides tools, training and financial incentives to support and reward communities as they pursue sustainability programs.

Solar Town

Trinity Solar Company has adopted Belmar as its first “solar town,” the company announced this week.

This means that residents who install solar systems on their homes will be benefitting the community financially as well as environmentally, thanks to Trinity’s pledge to donate $1,000 to a Belmar school, church, government facility or non-profit organization for every solar system they install in the borough.

“If you can help residents lower their electric bills and at the same time help generate additional revenue for businesses in town, why wouldn’t you do that?” Council President and Environmental Commission member Matthew Doherty said Wednesday.

The Belmar Environmental Commission has been instrumental in fostering a relationship between Belmar and Trinity Solar, Councilman Doherty said.

The mayor and council have also made solar installation easier in the borough by approving a resolution to waive permit fees for those who wish to implement solar energy use in their homes.

Solar energy systems are profitable in the long run, thanks to solar renewable energy credits [SRECs] generated by the equipment, Councilman Doherty said.

Traditional gas and electric utility companies are required by law to purchase a certain amount of SRECs per year, and in New Jersey, these companies are required to purchase the SRECs inside the state. This drives up the cost of SRECs, and benefits homeowners who have solar systems in their homes.

Of course the politicians who promote these programs never go back 5 or 10 years later and see if the promises they made were kept.  They almost never are.  (For example, in the 5 years that we’ve had the SID, commercial property values in Belmar have gone down, not up.)  So the politicians just keep coming up with new “solutions” to the problems that their previous “solutions” did nothing to solve.

One program has a record of tremendous success going back hundreds of years but the politicians refuse to promote it because it requires them to cede power instead of grabbing more power.  And that is the American system of free enterprise.

Free markets and free people always create prosperity, and not just in macroeconomics papers.  It works in “real world” places too, like the streets of Belmar.

Coast Star Covers SID Acrimony

It’s a rather lengthy story, Star subscribers can read it here.

A lot of good arguments were made Tuesday night which are covered in the story.  Here is one of the better ones:

…… David Schneck, of C Street, another past opponent of the SID, further discussed the nature of the membership process.

“I ask every year, please make it volunteer,” Mr. Schneck said. “Is it worth having these people so upset to get the money?

“We’re suppose to have freedom of association in the country,” he said. “You’re not supposed to force people to be a part of an organization they don’t want to be a part of.”

Referring to the previous speakers, Mr. Schneck asked the council to consider whether taking an action that clearly bothers some business owners in town is necessary.

A compromise, he said, would be to let businesses formed prior to the establishment of the SID to choose whether or not to join the BBP, and requiring newer businesses to join.

The current method, he said, is “mean.”

“It’s using force against people who are minding their own business, literally,” Mr. Schneck said. “Voluntary society is really the way to go. The most compassionate way to run a society is through voluntary action between people, not the use of force.”……

You see, to me the true measure of any society is the degree to which the use of force has been eliminated as a factor in human relationships.  Unfortunately our mayor disagrees:

……..Mayor Doherty rejected the concerns regarding the involuntary nature of BBP membership, and said while solutions like those proposed by Ms. Dallaportas and Mr. Schneck might sound appealing, to the brough, they are not practical.

“We can have these philosophical arguments about the use of force, and whether or not a business should be able to operate on its own,” the mayor said. “On a piece of paper, in macroeconomics class, that all makes sense, but nothing in the real word occurs in a vacuum.”…..

Politicians always find freedom to be impractical because it interferes with their own agendas but actually, in the real world, wonderful things happen when freedom and rule of law is respected by government.  It’s not a coincidence that all the richest countries in the world are also the freest.

Council Meeting Of December 16, 2014

SID Update – Vote Was 3-2

Brian ended up voting against it.  (It was his his vote that I was least sure of when I made my prediction yesterday morning.)  I was correct that the mayor would promise to make the assessments more equitable and based more on the “benefit” that certain businesses get from the SID.  He really had no choice after Rob Harris of Belmar Self Storage made a very compelling argument that he was paying one of the highest SID assessments and receiving basically zero benefit.

SID Passes!

6:22 am

Despite vocal opposition from several members of the business community, the 2015 Special Improvement District budget was passed tonight by a 4 to 1 margin.

Before casting their votes, Councilwoman Blackburn and Councilwoman Nicolay both commented on how nice the Christmas decorations look this year.  Councilman Magovern stated that he still thought the $119,000 budget was a little high but he was willing to give the SID the benefit of the doubt and let the special SID tax continue for another year.  Mayor Doherty said he understood the concerns of the SID’s critics, and that he would ask the directors of the SID to work to try to come up with fairer system for the SID tax assessments, but he still felt the SID has had great success and wanted to continue the progress.

Councilman Bean, in his final vote as a Belmar councilman, cast the sole “no” vote.  He said that the tax was an impediment to business development in town and that the Council should be working to cut the cost of doing business in Belmar instead of increasing it.  He did not know it at the time, but his vote turned out to be the last “no” vote ever cast at a Belmar Borough Council meeting.

Last Week

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In My Dreams

Most of you don’t know this but early last spring, when it looked like nobody wanted to put themselves through running for mayor in this town, I told Jim Bean that if nobody was going to run that I would get myself on the ballot as an independent or maybe as a Libertarian.  I thought it would be fun and interesting and there would be nothing to lose.  Why not try?  So although you might believe that Bean chose to run because he wanted to usher in a new era of open, honest and responsible government for Belmar, the truth is that he ran because he wanted to save Belmar from the embarrassment of having only David Schneck to put up as a challenger to Matt Doherty.

Of course I was glad when Jim told me that he had decided to run.  And of course it’s no secret that I wanted very badly for him to win.  But I must confess that sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk, and when I should be working on the auto parts data that I create for a living, I do start to daydream a little.  What if Jim hadn’t have run?  What if nobody else did either?  What if I was the only challenger?  What if…by some unforeseeable  twist of fate…I won!!?  What if………..…….zzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZZZZZ

Well the first thing I would do is re-name the town.  Belmar.  Ugh!  What a stupid name!  I’m sure I can come up with something better than that.  Let me think……….

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Excellent!  That’s much better!

Now whoever named Belmar’s streets had absolutely no imagination at all.  A B C D, 1st 2nd 3rd 4th.  Sheesh!  If I could come up with a really clever name we could just use it for every street in town.  Hmm…let me think………Got it!

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Of course the school would need to be changed too.  We need to get these kids thinking right from an early age.

MISS-PA-Schnecks

The “Schnecksville Sharks”!  Perfect!  (I’m so glad I thought of that.)

Local merchants that were named after Belmar….such as the Belmar Diner….would need to accommodate  themselves to the new reality, especially if they want my business (which, at food establishments, can be considerable).

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Actually, in order to make sure the new government in Schnecksville stays firmly in power, it better just buy everybody’s houses.  (Eminent domain, yeah baby!)

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Oh my God, I don’t want to pay such high property taxes on all these houses.  Now I see that property taxes are too high and we need to cut them.  A lot!

The old Belmar:

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The new Schnecksville:

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This is going great!  What else can I do?  Hmm…I know!  I’ll have my new Borough Administrator, Darlene Schneck, (sorry, Colleen) write a song about Schnecksville and open every Council meeting with it:

OK.  The song could use a little work.  Still, I can’t believe how much fun I’m having as mayor of Schnecksville.  Next I plan to………

Dave

Dave!

Dave!!

Wake up!!!

Oops!  Sorry sir.  No, sir, I wasn’t sleeping.  I was just resting my eyes for a minute.  Yes, sir, I’ll have the data ready for the new door mirror and window regulator catalog before I go home tonight.  Yes, sir.  Yes, sir.  It won’t happen again.  Sorry, sir.

Damn!

Doherty: Raise Our Gas Tax!

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I guess Maggie made him do this.