Waynesboro: Closed for business

closedWaynesboro leaders, in their infinite wisdom, are going to save city taxpayers $140,000 this year by reneging on an economic-development deal with the Wayne Theatre.

I say, why stop there?

So this economic-development deal with the Wayne, which committed the city to $700,000 over five years as leverage to bring $11 million of investment into the downtown theatre, is dead in the water in the city’s eyes.

Got it.

And we need an economic-development office from here on out … why?

Because let’s face it, the economic-development folks aren’t having a lot of success anyway. The last big deal they signed off on was the $3.425 million in scrub brush in 2011 that’s still scrub brush, and it’s not all that arguable that the land isn’t even worth what the city paid for it five years ago.

Aside from that, we overpaid for $15 an hour jobs at PGI a couple of years before the scrub brush deal.

And now that we’ve welched on the Wayne Theatre deal, isn’t it high time that we get rid of the economic-development guy and his entire office?

What are they possibly going to be able to do now that we’ve set the precedent of backing out on deals after not only agreeing to them in principle, then shaking on them, and also then actually signing on the bottom line?

What we’ve done here is put up a billboard: Waynesboro is closed for business.

Because seriously, you’re better off putting yourself in the market for a share in the Brooklyn Bridge than believing anything you might get offered by anyone claiming to represent the City of Waynesboro.

Which raises the question, we have an economic-development office … why, again?

The building and inspections office has been actively running off business for years. Ask anybody, especially those who actually persevered and played the silly game that our building and inspections folks made them play to get their permitting in order to be able to do business here.

For every one of them, there are multiples who started the game, then moved on to do business elsewhere, where their boost to economic activity was actually considered to be of value.

So, we use our building and inspections office to run off business as best we can, then when those who remain steadfast through the red tape get to the point of having the city meet its end of the obligation part of things find out that, OK, sorry, but our promises of good faith signified by signatures and the city seal are so much bunk, well, there’s an old saying about fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me, that seems to apply here.

Why do we even pretend anymore? Eliminate the economic-development office, post haste, and distribute the savings to the penny-pinching taxpayers here who don’t seem to care that this city is dying, fast.

Column by Chris Graham

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