Barter fine, but not on taxpayer dime

To The Editor:

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Rebecca Harmon for such an excellent letter to the editor, published in the Friday, July 27, 2018 Mount Airy News. Not only was it one of the best written letters I’ve ever read but I agree with her completely.

Bring on Barter, a little bit of culture never hurt anyone, as long as it is not taxpayer funded. We as individual citizens can go out and buy our own culture, we do not need our government deciding how to spend our money on what cultural events they think are best for us as individuals.

Don’t even compare the money the city spends on festivals, Barter is a private business and we already have one taxpayer funded playhouse, which is fine. I believe it is laughable to think that The Barter could even come close to replacing the tourism Mount Airy has experienced from being know as “Mayberry” and the Andy Griffith Show. And even when Andy is pretty much faded away I would still doubt Barter will outdraw “Mayberry.”

How many times have you ever heard people from every corner of our nation say “I still watch those reruns of ‘The Barter” all the time?’” I know Barter is supposed to bring in all types of people from outside the city limits and they logically will spend some extra money while here, once or twice a year. It is the citizen property owner of Mount Airy, however, who will bear the major expense of Barter every day, year round, year after year. Taxpayers who may never have any interest in experiencing the Barter.

Again if Barter wants to grace our fair city with their presence then great; but it must not be on the backs of the taxpayer. If Barter was such a great deal and money maker then you know some rich capitalistic pig would jump in and keep all the spoils for themselves.

From the very beginning I’ve wonder exactly what Barter has done for Abingdon, Virginia. Hasn’t Barter been there since the early 1930s? Abingdon is smaller than Mount Airy I believe. Did Barter build the hotels or did the interstate? Did Barter keep Abingdon’s unemployment figures lower than the state or national average? Did Barter make Abingdon what it is today and without Barter would little ol’ Abingdon be just a mud spot in the middle of the road?

I think the answers might just be, Interstate, No, and No. Is Barter a fine member of the Abingdon community? I’m sure they are. Would Abingdon miss The Barter, I’m sure they would. Would Abingdon dry up and blow away if Barter was to leave? I highly doubt it.

Could Barter add to our great city? Yes I believe so. Is it a cure for all our ill’s, as it is paraded around to be? I don’t think so. Could we give Barter some tax breaks the first several years? Sure, I think most of us could go for that. But when our city government indicated that we must raise property taxes just to maintain the level of our current services, but then to potentially add Barter on top of that — we will be paying 70 cents on the 100 before you know it.

Or is it all a shell game and the increase in property taxes for services is just a ruse with the real reason for the tax increase is to secure a tax base to lease a privately funded theater?

Barter here as a standalone private, non-taxpayer funded entity would be great. Yet if at the expense of the taxpayer through backroom deals and people thinking they are so smart they will just pull the wool over the eyes of the citizenry and do an end run on the dummies then I don’t think so. I did not realize we had an Ivory Tower in Mount Airy. Any money (remember we are the boss) coming out of our wallet to pay for Barter and I know of at least one city manager, three elected commissioner employees and one elected mayoral employee who will, I would hope, no longer be employed by the voting taxpaying bosses of Mount Airy.

James Wagner

Mount Airy