The City of Albany got it right. The finance department wanted to raise the occupational tax fee, and the city commission failed to do so at their work session earlier this week. That failure is probably the best thing they could have done in the grand scheme of things. To bad they’re willing to revisit the issue.
I am a business owner. This digital newspaper, for better or worse, is a business. Owning a business is a hell of a lot harder than most people would have you think. It’s not doing the same job, but doing it for yourself. It’s about making payroll, covering bills, and dealing with the government and all of their taxes and other types of red tape.
News is fortunate. We’re not bound by a pile of federal and state regulations dealing with our product, but there are still plenty of other things I have to deal with by virtue of owning a business. A local government seeking to raise the occupational tax rate, in some cases by as much as 50 percent, might have just been the final push to The Albany Journal being located elsewhere.
For the smallest businesses, the proposal was for the rate to increase from $100 to $150. Yes, that is a 50 percent increase no matter how you shake it. I’m going to let you in on another secret folks. That $50 may not seem like much, but to a business that’s struggling to stay afloat in an awful economy? That might as well be millions.
Unfortunately, they’re still willing in increase taxes. Keep reading.
I can hear some folks now though. “If they can’t manage that $50, then maybe they should close the doors,” some might say. Sure, that’s really easy to say too. You don’t have family members who have invested their life savings into your dream. You don’t have to deal with the idea that your retired family members might have to go back to work if you quit. You don’t have to look at yourself in the mirror and feel like a failure because you lost everything you had, and everything they had as well.
No, $50 will probably not bankrupt a company of any size. I never said that it would. But why make things more difficult on the businesses that will ultimately help our economy grow? We need them as strong and viable as possible, and we need them that way a lot more than we need a few more dollars in occupational tax fees.
Unfortunately, this won’t remain the same. The Commission, as all government tends to do, seems willing to increase taxes. Government isn’t like you or me. If we’re cash strapped, we have to cut expenditures. Government can just snap their fingers and demand more from us. This is no different.
So far though, they’re doing the right thing. Now, let’s hope they just decide to keep doing nothing on this front so Albany businesses can have a fighting chance.