Wednesday, February 02, 2011

2 FEB 11: More of Your Business

Tuesday was a scary day in part of Columbus - certainly nothing to joke about. But business owners throughout the city may have received a jolt, if they heard a radio interview with the mayor. She brought up something which could cost them all more money -- and no, she's NOT calling for a city version of national health care.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson told WDAK's "Viewpoint" she's considering adjustments in the city occupation tax, to help keep the city budget balanced. This was noteworthy for several reasons. For one thing, the mayor agreed to be interviewed by Mike Gaymon after his highly-publicized apology....

An occupation tax means different things in different places. In Columbus, it's something businesses compute every year based on their estimated "gross receipts." Sadly, that phrase now has expanded to include items found at East Porterdale Cemetery.

I've filled out the city occupation tax form a couple of times, because of home business ideas that came and went. In one year, I actually received a refund check from the city [23 Jul 07]. These days, the only way that might happen will be if Tony Adams sues the city after being acquitted at trial.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson didn't get into details about how the occupation tax might change. But I'm guessing some of the exemptions on the second page could be reduced or eliminated, so businesses pay more. Right now they receive an exemption for subcontracting their work, or for "nonprofit receipts." After the fuss last year over MidTown Inc. tax returns, non-profits might want to clear time for May budget hearings.

The new mayor showed some "chutzpah" by dropping hints about the occupation tax on a Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce radio program. Maybe this finally will do what was promised years ago - bring major retail growth to Harris County.

But if Teresa Tomlinson really wanted to shake up the business community, she'd propose something else. I've lived in places where businesses had to pay a city earnings tax -- and it showed up as a deduction on my check stub. I'd say more about this, but I don't want to be blamed for every Columbus worker losing money....

Tuesday's Ledger-Enquirer mentioned one more potential money-making idea. City officials again are talking about selling "naming rights" to the Columbus Civic Center. This was tried a few years ago, but the price was set too high for companies [4 Apr 06]. And the way things went the last few weeks, I seriously doubt the new ice rink will be named Dale Hester Hall.

On another matter, Mayor Tomlinson said Tuesday the federal government will not provide extra money for area schools to deal with base realignment until the fall of 2012. Washington apparently waits one year after the realignment is complete - the better to lobby lawmakers, by showing row after row of portables.

-> We had a very late night of blogging, due to a big night of online poker. Look for details during the day at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <-

E-MAIL UPDATE: When someone confesses faults, we respond with compassion and understanding - right? Well, maybe not everybody....

"Sir" Richard:

I just read your 2/1/11 Special Edition. It filled my heart with glee. Now, if I could get you to work just as hard on those "Weezels" in "Hurt'sboro's Town Hall - I know they would just be a memory very soon. One thing you may have overlooked -there's a new regulation that a municipality has to change auditors every three years. I guess those that make the laws, don't want things to get too cozy between the Examiner and the Examined.

R.J. Schweiger

In fact, the Phenix City Charter includes a section mentioning a "three-year" rule for changing auditors. But the auditor is selected through a bidding process, and Phenix City officials have said they seldom have more than one bidder for the job. In Hurtsboro, accountants might wind up losing money from the work.

Another Phenix City story tops our review of other recent news....

+ A former Phenix City department head set up what appears to be a mock "Sumbry Defense Fund" Facebook page. I'm not sure Councilor Arthur Sumbry Sr. really needs that -- not as long as the NAACP holds Freedom Fund banquets.

+ Victoryland owner Milton McGregor abandoned his federal court fight to have a monitoring bracelet removed from his body, while he awaits trial. McGregor has claimed the bracelet increases his blood pressure. Is he sure the thought of federal prison isn't causing that?

+ Aflac reported total revenues for 2010 of $20.7 billion. That's up more than 13 percent from the year before -- so maybe now the company will hire an assistant duck.

(An Aflac news release explained revenues were higher in part because the Japanese yen is stronger compared with the U.S. dollar. Yet for some reason, Shogun and Fuji still haven't opened Japanese restaurants near the Aflac tower on Wynnton Road.)

+ GPB Radio reported a bill in the Georgia Legislature would shorten the time for advance voting from 45 to 21 days. This would substantially reduce the time candidates have to trick voters by flip-flopping on major issues.

+ WTVM showed the opening day of baseball practice at Columbus High School. If the defending state champions go on another long playoff run this year, one thing could be different - as Kyle Carter may be able to grow a playoff beard.

+ Instant Message to WRBL: I notice you have more local commercials on digital 3.2 these days. But isn't Haverty's Furniture rushing the seasons a bit? I'm more used to seeing Columbus Day sales in September, not February.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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