The Block Island Times
http://block-island.villagesoup.com/p/1143752

Money better spent elsewhere

Mar 26, 2014

 

Sometimes when we look at how the town sets its spending priorities, it’s difficult to see if the powers that be understand what pays our bills.

A case in point is the situation with The Welcome Center, an issue discussed at the Tourism Council this week.

First, the facts. The town owns the building that sits on land that is in turn owned by Interstate Navigation. Interstate Navigation has an agreement to lease the land to the town for free.

The Chamber of Commerce occupies the building and provides services to thousands of tourists every year.

The Chamber pays the town $11,700 in rent and also forwards to the town the first $7,000 in fees from locker rentals in the adjacent building. The lockers belong to the town and need major repairs.

The town pays a contractor to have the public restrooms — located in the same building as the lockers — cleaned daily. The toilets are often sorely in need of attention.

So the town sees about $20,000 in revenue and obviously benefits from the services provided to our visitors. And it is of course our visitors from whom the town derives its operating revenue.

The Chamber has a plan to renovate the Welcome Center by adding a door that will vastly improve traffic flow and better serve visitors. The Chamber needs to come up with $10,000 for the work, even though the building does not belong to them.

The town should return the $20,000 in revenue it receives from the Chamber. It’s not a significant amount of money to lose. The Chamber could use the money to hire a full time attendant for the restroom facilities, who could also attend to trash pick up downtown, watering the flowers in Rebecca and other assorted tasks to help improve the gateway to our island. The town will then no longer have to employ a contractor to clean the restrooms.

And frankly the town should pay to renovate its own building. It’s an investment.

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