The $500,000 Tax Money Giveway - And Response (3)

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Mayor Berke,

On September 5, 2017, you asked and were granted a 22-cent property tax increase for city government operations and a capital fund.

At the meeting, the City Council approved your proposal for the property tax increase of 22 cents per $100 of property assessment.  As a result, every business, home owner, and property owner had one-month notice that their local property taxes were increased.  This action harmed many people with escrow accounts and mortgages.  City Hall did not concern themselves with problems of the mere citizens or senior citizens.

The city minutes from the September 5, 2017 City Council meeting indicate that you stated, “Our senior citizens, when faced with rising costs of an improving economy, should not have to worry about where they are going to live out the best years of their life. Thanks to the leadership of City Council, we can provide an opportunity to help senior citizens in our community.”

The city’s program for senior citizen property tax relief is extraordinarily pathetic. Those running for re-election should not tout this program, after voting for the tax increase.  The state of Tennessee program accomplishes the same. The city is taxing the elderly out of their homes

.I am reading the press release you published today, which proposes to turn the property tax increase funds taken from hard-working families and business owners with little notice into a $500,000 gift to redistribute to other businesses. Have you considered who you are taking from to give to in your redistribution of other people’s hard-earned income taken as taxes?

I am reading that you propose $500,000 of public money to be redistributed to small businesses of your choice, interesting application of Socialism.

Many that own struggling businesses, but managed to pay their increased property taxes, have questions about the $500,000 redistribution of their money or giveaways that you proposed today.

It is way too easy to give away other people’s money, called public money.  Many have some questions about this $500,000 gift of public money you plan to giveaway.

1)  Is this $500,000 gift to small businesses you deem worthy of public assistance budgeted in the current budget. Or, is this proposed for the budget in July 2019?

2)  Please justify taking funds from working families and small business to redistribute to other businesses. All business has need. If need exists in small business, let’s all write a check for a donation starting with you, Mayor Berke.

3) Public funds are not for private business capital. Are you donating $500,000 of your own money, or simply treating the new tax increase windfall as n opportunity to redistribute the business income of others?  This is not clear in the press release notifying, we the people, that our Mayor is giving away $500,000 of public money to businesses.

4) You seem to favor turning public funds taken through taxation in to private donations.  Do you understand that tax dollars are not for private gain?

5) What does the city spend millions on aside from huge bond issue debt? The city does not operate schools, hospitals, health services, just emergency services and infrastructure, hopefully consistent with the City Charter.   I wonder about that, after reviewing the budget that meanders from the constraints of the city charter.

If you deem the $500,000 give away as needed welfare to businesses, use your own money for charity, Mayor, as everyone does, or donate your Mayor’s salary to the businesses that need a charitable donation.

It is not a function of government to force funds under taxation for private purpose.  Public money is for public purpose, not private business capital. Making this distinction is a fundamental requirement for local government.  Paying property taxes should not be a redistribution.

April Eidson

* * * 

The newly announced program Ms. Eidson is speaking of is called the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program. It is a loan program. Small Chattanooga businesses may apply to borrow up to $25,000 from this fund for a variety of particular needs. The program requires the business to match a percentage of the loan on a sliding scale. The purpose of the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program is to provide a resource for small businesses that are not adequately supported by private banks.  

In Ms. Eidson's letter she incorrectly categorizes this program as 'redistribution, socialism, a giveaway, a gift, public assistance, donations, and welfare.' Nowhere in her letter does she mention the central fact that the Neighborhood Reinvestment Program is a loan program. It appears appropriate to assume that Ms. Eidson is intentionally misleading the reader.

Should Ms. Eidson wish to debate the merits of such a loan program, I would invite this discussion.

Nolan Crenshaw

* * * 

OK, Mr. Crenshaw, so it's a loan program. It is not the proper function of municipal government to act as a bank.

If a local business needs operating capital, there are numerous banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions in the Chattanooga area.  If a business is viable, it should have no trouble getting financing from one of those sources.

If a business cannot get a $25,000 or smaller loan from a bank due to being deemed a poor risk, it's probably also a poor risk for taxpayers.

At best, this is mission creep on the part of local government. At worst, it could be used to favor politically connected businesses, to the detriment of others.

Joe Dumas

* * * 

When the neighborhood reinvestment program was first introduced I was in attendance as downtown Neighborhood Relations Specialist Karen Clay introduced a guest speaker whose name escapes me now. What I recall was a very accomplished young lady that relocated from Atlanta, if I recall correctly, telling us that she was here to roll out this new program that Mayor Berke had created towards reinvesting into Chattanooga Neighborhood businesses.

As a small business owner in Chattanooga myself I was intrigued by the ideas presented. 
However because I choose to pray and investigate matters before I leap into something that is untested I chose to decline further interest. Ultimately what I could never overcome was this is a local government program that sidetracks legitimate private lending institutions. 

Now the why I opposed a government handout is I felt it antithetical to everything I have learned about business and politics. These government loan practices are meant to gain votes from unsuspecting recipients by politicians whose real purposes are to position themselves as Santa Claus. It simply is not the function of government to loan money for this express and precise reason. 

Additionally an irony is taking place in county government to reboot discretionary funding under the guise of commissioners can better make decisions for their districts. Again they are simply attempting to buy votes for re-election.

I stand with Ms. Eidson's assertion that this loan program is indeed an government effort to redistribute taxpayers money which is socialism.

Ron Ray
Lookout Valley

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