This morning, April 22, 2014, the Palm Beach County Board of Commissioners chose to adopt an ordinance to further regulate gas station signs for the already heavily regulated industry. Libertarians would suggest there should be no regulation of the signs, leaving up to the individual owner/operators of each gas station to determine what works best for them and their customers. The countywide ordinance (PDF) was tentatively approved by commissioners this past February. The issue had been tabled for a June, 2014 Board of Commissioners meeting, however county commissioners got wind of a state law which could derail their plans, so last week they moved the ordinance up on the calendar for today.
The issue has been dragging on since October, 2013 when commissioners wanted things to be clearer to travelers from the road as to what gas stations are specifically charging for fuel. The controversy is that some travelers are not able to easily determine the difference between cash pricing, credit card pricing and in some instances "gas card" pricing. The issue comes on the heels of when Broward County, Florida started an ordinance forcing gas stations to display their highest prices, not their lowest prices, late last year, which Palm Beach County Commissioners are seeking to mimic.
The debate is over the cost of changing out hundreds of gas station signs at an estimated cost of between $10,000 to $20,000 each. At a time when gas station owners are having a hard time financially, the county commission is calling for them to payout another $10,000 - $20,000 expense when they are already compliant with state law.
Interestingly, it was Tea Party favorite Commissioner Hal Valeche that started this ball rolling to increase regulation on small business in Palm Beach County, which has many low regulation constituents scratching their heads. Valeche, a Republican, almost by definition, are supposed to be against unnecessary regulation of business, however as we see each year, Republicans defy the myth adding pounds of pages to county ordinances and state statutes.