Ben Brown reports in the Port City Daily on a N. C. Beach Inlet and Waterway Association conference held at the Blockade Runner hotel at Wrightsville Beach this week. Beach town officials worry that state and federal funds for beach renourishment and dredging inlets may no longer be generous. Officials look for new funding ideas and expect the rest of us to get our minds right about their wants. (link)
During past decades federal pork-barrel funds rolled onto coastal beaches allowing local politicians to avoid higher taxes to pay for their playgrounds—residents, business owners and government agents prosper from other taxpayer’s money, taxes paid by tourists, and money spent by them. Now they face some sobering realities: they may have to get the money closer to home. And they should.
A coastal consulting firm’s study showed that every dollar spent on beach renourishment returns $60. That flies in the face of demands for outside public funds. An engineer with Moffatt and Nichol figures that these North Carolina coastal projects need $40 million annually. That amounts to return on investment of $2.4 Billion!
We must ask: If beach towns benefit 60 to 1 by this spending, why do they need other people’s money? Logic tells us that with these huge returns locals should be more than happy to invest that small amount from their own funds. In fact, according to Rep. Mike McIntyre, the return may be as high as $320 to $1—nearly $13 Billion. Who wouldn’t invest $40 million for that return every year?
But, typically, government officials greedily hope to pass on their project costs to other taxpayers. So they prepare studies and hire lobbyists to convince the North Carolina General Assembly to divert state funds to their benefit.
However, even beach lobbyist Connie Wilson recognized that beach town projects will have a tough time competing with demands from education and health lobbyists in the state. Her solution is to change the “stigmatized” term “beach renourishment” and promote “inlet dredging.” I doubt that using different language will fool our state legislators—at least, most of them.
And some coastal politicians express indignation at the image of beach residents as “wealthy property owners.” Brunswick County Commissioner Marty Cooke thinks that this is the “wrong mentality.” Maybe so, but it’s irrelevant. The question is, why should inland taxpayers subsidize the taxes and fees used to gain such great benefits (described above) derived from beach renourishment?
Finally, the principle here, it seems to me, is that users and other beneficiaries pay for their own recreation and profits. Otherwise, this is a clear case of greed—a vice too often associated with statists.
At the same time it’s unfair to beach community people that any law should prevent them from protecting their property from storm damage. The N. C. Coastal Federation and other meddling environmental activists have had undue influence with previous state legislators. It’s past time for beach towns and other property owners to be able to build erosion control structures. (link)
I’d like to see a study by disinterested parties that shows the benefit to cost ratio for such works—a large factor in the equation should include the savings from massive annual beach renourishment. But, of course, it’s likely that politics will prevail over reasonable solutions.Read full article » No Comments »