Greedy Wilmington city officials continue to expand their downtown Mecca and look beyond their borders for public money to finance lavish waterfront schemes. Ben Brown of the Port City Daily writes about how they enviously eye the beach renourishment bonanza of federal, state and local taxed money that has historically kept coastal beach towns in the tourism business. (link)
Councilwoman Laura Padgett observed that City Council has created a “very expensive waterfront.” Yes, Laura, there is no Santa Claus. Councilwoman Margaret Haynes wants to extend the tentacles of “beach renourishment” spending to “shoreline restoration.” Of course, if River City officials hadn’t spent liberally on the waterfront—with $4.8 million “improvements” planned—they wouldn’t need millions more for upkeep. But they are subsidized by Big Treasury up North.
The feds have provided “grants” as incentive for locals to offer luxury recreation. When Washington largesse runs low, resident taxpayers will be stuck with higher taxes for debt and maintenance. But local politicians won’t be accountable for costs; they’ll simply seek more public revenue.
Wilmington officials pay a lobbyist $5,000 a month to cajole state legislators with a city “wish list” to prop up downtown projects with out-of-town money. And beach town officials continue to beg for “renourishment” to support their business interests and greedily collect more taxes. Former county commish (self-described “conservative”) Ted Davis, just elected to a House seat in Raleigh, is all for beach bingo because it subsidizes tourism. His Democrat opponent agreed. It’s nonpartisan, but irresponsible spending, in my opinion.
(Incidentally, if beach towns and landowners could structurally protect their property, there would be less need to regularly pump eroded sand back on beaches.)
It seems to me that the conservative principle to apply involves the idea that users pay. I constitutionally agree that some very limited “General Welfare” spending should be shared by all citizens. However, recreation facilities, private businesses and local tax collections to prime the spending pump do not justify taking the property from many to subsidize the profit and pleasures of a few.
In this case, the game of beach bingo doesn’t stand the constitutional test, but many of our officials will play to win votes and justify their jobs.
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