So the SID’s proposed second year budget (another $175,000!) is due for approval at the Jan 18 council meeting and in order to allay Mr. Shrimp owner Vince Petruziello’s recently stated displeasure at the lack of transparency regarding the SID, a special meeting, open to the public, was held Tuesday evening. Mr. Petruziello is on the fence about the SID but does have some concerns about the fairness of the SID tax assessment and the focus of the SID’s efforts. (Of course ALL government programs, by nature of the fact they they involve the use of force against peaceful, honest citizens, are inherently unfair.) He also was highly skeptical of the high cost of producing a website for the SID, estimated to be around $20,000. I think that’s an insane amount to spend on a website that I suspect will see very little traffic. As I pointed out at a December council meeting, I did my campaign website myself with Web Site Tonight from GoDaddy in a few hours at a cost of around $100. And I bet my campaign website got more traffic than the SID website ever will.
A couple of property owners who were not on the fence expressed their extreme displeasure at being drafted, totally against their wishes, into paying for this high-priced SID. One was a highly-agitated Mr. Bart Yarnold, owner of Shark River Kayak, and, according to The Coast Star, husband of a paid SID employee, which is pretty strange.
Another voice of dissent came from Mr. Merril Yeager, of Yeager Automotive, a high-end automotive repair and restoration business. He stated that the SID, which is geared mostly towards promoting shopping and tourism, does nothing for his business, that he is doing perfectly well without the SID, and wants to be released from his SID tax liability. His objection, in my opinion, is completely understandable.
I was given an opportunity to ask a few questions of SID director Michael Redpath. I asked what percentage of business owners in town supported the SID. He did not know. I pointed out that if a large percentage were behind the SID then it could be done on a voluntary basis with almost as much money collected as they have now and without all the acrimony. And if the SID did not enjoy wide support among the business community then maybe they shouldn’t have a SID. I also asked what the current vacancy rate is and whether they should have a target vacancy rate to determine whether or not the SID was successful after a certain period of time. Mr. Redpath answered that he did not know the current vacancy rate but thought it might be a good idea to determine what it is and set a target for the SID to meet. I hope he follows through with my suggestion. One problem with government programs is they never set a benchmark to determine whether or not the program is working, thus the program, even if entirely ineffective, continues forever. Politicians generally just want to be seen as trying to do something about a problem, and don’t usually care to follow up and see if what they are doing is really helping.
I hope the people being forced to finance the SID project aren’t further victimized by this type of callous attitude, typical of the proponents of most government programs. I’m sure there will be more to talk about after the Jan 18 meeting.
BTW, although I am very excited about the growing popularity of Ron Paul and his message of liberty, I am trying to keep this blog about local issues and I am resisting the temptation of writing about him every day. I am a Paul campaign volunteer and have been doing what I can to help him. If any of you want to follow Dr. Paul’s historic campaign more closely, I recommend www.dailypaul.com for all the latest.