The N&O reports this week that “Raleigh expands incentives program, OKs facade funding for art.”  This is a move entirely in the wrong direction.

According to the piece,

…The city’s business incentives program offers reimbursements on a sliding scale depending on how much a business invests, where it invests and how many jobs it creates. Businesses that plan to locate in one of 18 target areas are eligible for a higher level of incentives than those that don’t.

Until Tuesday, the city’s target areas covered 23 of the city’s 181 square miles. Now, businesses are eligible for incentives in 50 square miles of town…

So that’s 131 square miles in which businesses are discriminated against?  How about we stop the special treatment and give all businesses and all areas of town the same advantages that we’re giving the chosen few in those 50 square miles.  And instead of having special reimbursements that vary depending on all these factors, let’s just cut the overall tax rate.  If lower taxes are good for some businesses in some parts of town, if they’ll boost the economy in those areas, then extending those same lower taxes to all parts of town is even better.

And then murals and facade improvements?  Seriously?  I love art.  I think murals are great.  But

…The facade program offers a matching grant of up to $5,000 on a first-come, first-served basis to owners of retail or mixed-use properties to improve their building facades…

It seems to me that the primary beneficiaries of those grants are the property owners.  Should we, the taxpayers, really be paying for this?  When I paint my house, my neighbors benefit some.  But the primary beneficiary is clearly my family, and we’re rightly responsible for paying for that ourselves.  My HOA doesn’t cover it, and neither do the taxpayers of Raleigh.  I’m just not following why the same shouldn’t hold true for owners of businesses in town.

And as if the very fact that we’re paying for murals and facade improvements at all weren’t bad enough, the article also reports

…Raleigh has granted nearly $1 million to 120 businesses since the program’s inception, but city records show that 42 percent of the grants went to two businesses: Empire Properties and Hakan Market Partners, which renovated City Market…

Come on, Raleigh.  This is not a good use of taxpayers’ hard earned dollars.  We can do better.