Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Does Wilmington Need a "Municipal Services District?"

A municipal service district, of course, is code for "more taxes for downtown business owners."

Here's what Kevin O'Grady had to say:

Wilmington needs a municipal services district downtown, councilman Kevin O’Grady said during the meeting Tuesday.

“Personally I think it’s the tool that we’re missing,” he said after a discussion about Vision 2020 committee’s top priorities for downtown. The district that would add a tax on all property owners downtown keeps creeping into council meetings as a way to fund needed improvements downtown.

[...]He said the property owners would have control over how the money is spent and that it could be used for an immediate service that would clean up graffiti.

“That’s a big service. That alone makes it worthwhile,” he said.
Yes, folks, cleaning up graffiti alone makes it all worthwhile.

Of course, the business owners won't have the ability to voluntarily enter into a contract to have it cleaned, or maybe buy a can of paint and clean it themselves.

They'll be forced to pay for this service that O'Grady presumes they'll need.

Do you actually think the city will have every shade of paint stocked? Do you not think there will be greater delays than if people just decided to do it themselves?

Also, I can't remember ever seeing graffiti downtown. Perhaps councilman O'Grady is thinking of downtown Detroit.

Hopefully, he'll have some statistics to back up his claim, because I have the exact opposite impression. One statistic I do know is that crime reports in downtown "tumbled by about 30%" this year compared to last.

Maybe people are just choosing not to report all this graffiti that is purportedly springing up, right?

Here's one thing councilman O'Grady may not be aware of: downtown business owners are only allowed to buy their trash bags from the city and each trash bag cost $1.40 a piece (pg 41).

That's right. Downtown business owners cannot go to the store and buy a trash bag. They can only buy their trash bags from the city of Wilmington and each one costs $1.40.

Even with just that extra fee, ignoring all the property and sales taxes downtown generates, I'm guessing downtown businesses pay more than their fair share.

Of course, even with all these facts councilmembers Kevin O'Grady, Kristi Tomey, Laura Padgett and Charlie Rivenbark have all expressed interest in the idea of a 'municipal services district.'

I wonder why.

It couldn't just be a plan to milk downtown business owners for more money and then shift that money to pay for other projects or plug a massive budget hole, could it?

*cough, cough* Irony *cough, cough*

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