Not that anyone really needed to have the magnitude of the nation’s recession further reinforced, but a local car dealership’s request to use public money so that it can stay afloat erases every doubt that Wall Street has no bearing on Main Street.
A longstanding business in Forest Park has been drowning since the credit markets stiffened and on Monday asked the village council for help. Sales are down – way down – and if things don’t change, the business will close. The Currie Group, which owns two dealerships on Roosevelt Road, is making plans to cut inventory and consolidate before taking one last gulp of air and hoping for the best.
How does this affect you? Auto dealers are among the most coveted businesses because they generate buckets of revenue for the municipalities that woo them. If a dealership goes out of business or moves, those taxes are no longer being paid into the overall budget. That means one of two things: the rest of us pay more, or services take a hit.
Of course, the slumping economy’s reach goes well beyond auto dealers. So the prospect of shelling out public money when, frankly, there isn’t any, is quite risky. It may not even matter if Currie Group can again realize profits, because the automakers in Detroit might not make it.
A bailout in the form of a tax break is certainly worth exploring, but the council must be as sure as it can be that this money isn’t being shoveled into a swirling drain. Maybe we should all practice holding our breath.