Aberdeen city government goes astray again

March 27, 2012

Our politicians in Aberdeen are back at the wheel, trying to steer residents down a path in which they have no interest.

The mayor and City Council had a "retreat" at Ripken Stadium a few weekends ago, where they started to work on their plans to solve the problems here in Aberdeen.

Some of the ideas have merit but are approached from the wrong angle. Mayor Michael E. Bennett proposes securing investments for a pub or bar in "downtown Aberdeen" — we can describe this as the area on West Bel Air Avenue between the train tracks — and he explains that we need to eliminate height restrictions for this to happen.

We do need to eliminate height restrictions because central planning does not work, but we cannot replace the current restrictions with hoops that only the politically connected can jump through. Remember, Mayor Bennett's campaign was funded by thousands of dollars from large developers and lobbyists. Make no mistake, when politicians advocate for special interest handouts, there is a reason for it.

The City Council, unless they cut deals behind closed doors, cannot know which type of business or person would be most inclined to invest in a downtown (without taxpayer handouts), and I am not willing to spend other people's tax dollars to find out. This is not a bad thing because we don't need to know who will invest here! If we establish a healthy climate for investment, it will come, without subsidies.

If we want real economic growth through private investment in Aberdeen that will benefit everyone, the path to success is three simple items:

1) Taxes that are predictable, low and fair for everybody. No handouts to businesses or individuals. These distort the market and cause other problems. The budget is coming up soon, keep your eyes peeled.

2) Water and sewer bills that are predictable, low and fair. This may as well be a tax, and year after year, the City Council votes to approve higher water and sewer rates.

3) Planning and zoning rules that are predictable, concrete and fair.

Until we reduce the burden of high taxes, fees and bureaucracy in Aberdeen, the only businesses we will get to invest will demand taxpayer handouts that our City Council are more than happy to oblige.

Patrick McGrady, Aberdeen

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