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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Editorials Editorial: Public Hearings Should Be Held Even When Not Required

Editorial: Public Hearings Should Be Held Even When Not Required

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

Once again, I sat at a meeting on Friday October 19, and watched as the Carolina Beach Town Council voted to eliminate a discount for early purchases of Freeman Park vehicle passes.
That's right, you can no longer purchase an annual pass for $60 prior to April. Now they're $100 all year even if you buy one with only a few months left on the calendar. If you're a resident and taxpayer and you frequent Freeman Park throughout the year, you might have appreciated the Council giving you an opportunity to at least voice your opinion on the matter.
But no. They voted to eliminate your discount. Actually, contrary to what the Council claims, they did in fact raise the rate. They claim it was a discount and therefore wasn't raising the rate, but at the end of the day when someone has to pay more than they did last year, it's a rate increase.
Shake that word-play-stick at the issue any way you want, it's a rate increase. If it slithers like a snake and hisses like a snake, it's a snake. Why is this issue worth of an editorial? For two reasons. First, raising the rates on taxpaying residents who have traditionally enjoyed a discounted annual vehicle park pass. Council's have long believed our citizens (and anyone wishing to buy early) deserve a break because they already pay taxes and fees to the Town. More importantly, the main issue of importance is the lack of will to take the time to seek those residents input when Council feels it's time to dip even deeper into their pockets.
Here's a bit of knowledge our elected leaders should have learned a long time ago; government of the people, by the people, for the people. (Lincoln).
It's a simple idea to understand, but evidently hard for some leaders to adhere to.
And while something like raising the rate for passes at Freeman Park doesn't seem all that important in the grand scheme of things, it's the principle of the matter. Heck, earlier this year the Council voted to raise parking rates and extend hours of enforcement. That wasn't even listed on the Council meeting agenda. No advanced notice. Nothing. Council just said hey, that's a way to make more money. Later on they were confronted by business owners who took issue with that decision and came back a month later and voted to reverse their decision on extending enforcement hours.
No one considered how that extension would affect the free fireworks at the Boardwalk or other area "free" events by restricting parking and running people off by writing tickets.
Of course, at last Friday's meeting Mayor Ray Rothrock even mentioned I might have something to write about when they were voting to raise the annual pass rate on those visitors and residents who enjoyed the discount. And he was right.
It's real simple. Whether the citizens agree with you or not, they expect you to give them the opportunity to attempt to influence decisions being considered by the people they elected to office. Failure to hold hearings strips them of that opportunity.