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The People’s Marina

We are always being told that the marina lowers our taxes but ask ten residents of Belmar if they know by how much and you’ll have ten people who have no idea. The answer would be difficult to ascertain unless you’re a CPA with some free time on your hands. Sure, we know there is revenue from the slips and other facilities, but there is large debt to service and other expenses. With the pending improvements it will only get more complicated. Consider all the money being invested in the marina, plus the value of the property itself. There needs to be more accountability. I think the town needs to do a better job of informing the residents of just how much they each are benefited. Here is how I would do it:

The marina should be operated as an entirely separate entity from the municipal government. Any profits that are generated after expenses and service on the debt should be distributed in the form of dividend checks directly to the good people of Belmar. Alaska does this with part of the revenues from oil leases on state land. It mails a yearly dividend check to each legal resident of the state. It’s called the Alaska Permanent Fund and it enjoys 100% support from Alaskans. The reason why it was set up was to make sure a sizable portion of the oil bonanza directly benefited the people instead of being spent politically.

With every adult legal resident of Belmar knowing exactly how much they are benefited, they will pay more attention to the marina. This can only be a good thing. If it doesn’t return enough on it’s considerable assets and improvements under it’s current management, maybe we can look at other ways to exploit this valuable resource, such as a giving a private investor a 50 year lease with development rights. Any improvements they make, such as a condos, apartments or restaurants on the site, would increase our property tax revenues without adding many children to our school. The lease revenue, however, should be enjoyed directly by the people.

I never bothered asking ten people if they knew how much the marina saved them. I did, however, ask a lot more than ten people what they thought of my plan to send dividend checks directly to the people. Turns out the idea is as popular here as it is in Alaska.

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