A Sign of Things to Come

Rhode Islanders should expect more of this:

It may be a sign of a bad economy, but some businesses are balking at a plan to charge fees for placing business logos on the blue highway signs at exits for food, gas and lodging. …
The $1,200 per-sign fee, which went into effect on Nov.4, applies to any business posting a logo on a highway sign; state transportation officials have since proposed a reduced rate of $300 a year per sign for the 72 businesses that already have permits to post their logos on the highway signs, according to Rocchio.

The businesses paid to install the signs, and now the Dept. of Transportation wants them to pay fees (1) just in case they are knocked down and (2) to hire enforcement bureaucrats to catch any such businesses that aren’t complying with regulations having to do with handicap access and public availability of bathrooms and phones. In short, it’s another way for the government of Rhode Island to squeeze benefits.
DOT Managing Engineer Robert Rocchio magnanimously points out that “no state or federal regulation requires” the signs to exist (in the Projo paraphrase), and the new fee matches that charged in Massachusetts. Rocchio misses the point: Each state must figure out its mixture of charges and benefits, and the relevant question at any given point is which direction it’s heading. This is a new imposition on productive Rhode Islanders who need to lure every through-state driver they can to boost our local economy.
As I began by saying, we should expect more policies like this. Rhode Island’s “leaders” have no new ideas, and Rhode Islanders keep electing them to office.

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michael
michael
10 years ago

Do you propose that businesses post their ads on the highway for free? Or pay a one time fee and just leave the thing there to rot?
I’d like to see them all (highway advertisements) gone.
“(2) to hire enforcement bureaucrats to catch any such businesses that aren’t complying with regulations having to do with handicap access and public availability of bathrooms and phones.”
One of the biggest surprises I had when I opened my business was finding out that after I had brought the place up to code and well past the state required regulations for safety and cleanliness that nobody would be inspecting the facility. Or ever would. There is nobody working for the state to do the inspections. One person handles the department that licensed me, and thousands of other businesses that use UV light ant radiological equipment. One.
The same goes for the restaurant industry. I know people who have been in business for years and have never had a state inspector pass through.
I am diligent when it comes to safety and cleanliness, but a lot of people are not.
Buyer beware.

G-Man
G-Man
10 years ago

Rocchio also said this wasn’t a tax. If you’re paying a fee to the government for something you already paid for, that’s a tax.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Michael,
It would be reasonable to require businesses to keep up their signs, having paid to erect them. Such are the debates that a civic enterprise like a state must undertake. But now is not the time to be inventing new ways to extract money from the economically productive sector of Rhode Island.

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