Manatee County is once again considering a new tax on local businesses in the name of economic development. This proposed business tax is the exact opposite of what you would expect from a county that claims to be business-friendly.
Even in the best of economic times, it would be a bad idea. In our current miserable economic climate, it is an even worse idea, and should be killed immediately.
Business owners do not want government adding yet another tax that they cannot recover from their customers.
County Administrator Ed Hunzeker says he had a similar tax in Hillsbourough County, but this does not justify a new tax here in Manatee County. We have no reason to add a business tax just because Hillsborough has one.
Justification for a new business tax
The original stated reason for this tax was that first responders such as firefighters and EMS personnel need to know what is in a building when they respond to a service call. But this is what our fire taxes or fire assessments are suppose to be paying for already. We should ask our fire departments to gather this information instead of adding a new government bureaucracy to do it.
If we do not have a standard, countywide fire department procedure for this, we should develop one. I know that for many years the fire department has come to a business in order to evaluate the building and make sure first responders knew what hazardous materials were stored and where they were.
Increasing the tax burden on a business and asking for yet another form to be filled out is not justified in our current economc situation.
The County Commission has worked hard to develop incentives to attract businesses, and has reduced much of the red tape involved in getting a building permit. Our Port Encouragement Zone is a good example of an area that offers business a strong incentive to locate there, mainly by reducing the time it takes to get development approvals. Why remove form-filling and bureaucracy with one hand while we add it with the other? That makes no sense.
In these challenging economic times, let's not put the last straw on the back of our local businesses. It is a psychological and financial impact that might encourage businesses to leave this county instead of bringing in new ones.
Public hearings are scheduled at 9 a.m March16 at the County Administration building, 1112 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton. Read the Proposed Ordinance
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