After being tossed into the deep end of the sometimes chilly pool of local government, our three new Town Council members have their heads above water and are treading water just fine. It may be time for our council as a whole to pick a direction and start swimming.
With our type of local government, the elected members of Town Council set the budget and determine policy. They hire a Town Manager to manage staff and day-to-day operations. We’ve seen managers who take their cue from council discussions and we’ve seen managers who only respond to a direct order or council vote. We have the latter.
Our business community is struggling. After two months of a near total shutdown, they have opened their doors, though not at full capacity. On reopening, the highest priority is making sure customers know that you are open. So, some businesses put up banners and signs to tell the world that they were open, come on in!
And our Town was right there to issue warnings that those signs were in violation of the sign ordinance. Is that the kind of town we are? Is that the message we want to send local businesses?
Nobody wants a free-for-all with everyone doing whatever they want, but surely our Town could relax a little on the current default position of rigid enforcement of every single ordinance. Ordinance enforcement is much like refereeing a basketball game – not every foul will ever be called. Refs can call a game really tight or really loose or somewhere in between. It’s never all or none.
If members of our Town Council want the strict enforcement of every ordinance to be our town’s standard policy, then they don’t need to do a thing because they have a manager who seems to live for the kind of power that enforcement level provides.
If they want a more nuanced approach during these trying times, if they want a temporary moratorium on enforcement of temporary signs or free parking or anything else, they need to be very specific in instructing their Town Manager. Take a vote so it’s on the record.
Most importantly, the power in our town rests with Town Council. We hope they exercise it to foster an atmosphere that encourages local businesses to thrive in our community.
On a completely different note – Thank you to all the Island Sand Paper readers who have welcomed us back into print and noticed our new look! We hope you like the new design and colorful visuals!