The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
It’s Halloween again, and again throngs of kids, wearing costumes bought at Wal-Mart, will flood downtown Warrensburg looking for handouts from our independent merchants. For many, this is the only time all year they or their parents will have any contact with downtown Warrensburg businesses. Then they’ll hurry back to their neighborhoods for some more door-to-door activity, ending up with a huge stash of candy, most bought from “big box” stores. We get mixed signals: greed is good for the economy – but not necessarily for our small businesses.
Warrensburg Main Street, Inc., has also sent mixed signals. After an attempt to get support for a special $2 levy to support the organization failed, the previous director left for greener pastures. The Main Street board brought in a new director from out-of-state, someone with some dynamic ideas to try to find things that work to bring people downtown, but neglected to tell her that they lacked the money to pay her regularly.
Another mixed signal is the downtown beautification project. We spend big tax dollars to money to enhance the downtown area, yet nothing to specifically promote it. Main Street struggles, in part because it doesn’t receive assistance with promotions. Of course, all the city’s $60,000 or so in room tax money is dedicated to the Chamber, where the oversight board pays no more than lip service to the Sunshine Law. After the many debacles involving oversight of tax money by various boards, I wonder if they’re really examining the books.
Speaking of mixed signals, have you ever wondered why the highway approaches to Warrensburg don’t have a big sign sporting the emblems of the civic clubs? Every other town our size and smaller does. I’m told it’s because the GWACC&VC wants to charge the clubs to put their signs back up, something they won’t pay. Surely, there’s enough tourism tax money to subsidize the restoration of those signs.
The ultimate in mixed signals is the stealth campaign for the park tax election next Tuesday. People are generally urged to get out and vote, but in cases like this the calculation is that supporters will turn out while those who generally oppose taxes won’t even realize that there’s an election. It worked for the school board last year. If you’re eligible to vote and don’t, don’t complain about the outcome.
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