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Bristol Raising Property Taxes to Pay for Corporate Welfare

Update: the earlier business tax increases were shelved (July 29) with politicians pledging to find another way to reduce debt and get more taxes - without business paying the bill.

Well they did by raising property taxes to pay for corporate welfare. Within days of the announcement they gave an individual $25,000 as an incentive to open an ice cream shop downtown and kept an earlier pledge to give $2 million in corporate welfare to a Roanoke hotel developer.

They claim these property tax increases (18% over three years) isn't going to pay for the Falls retail fiasco on I81. The city is in deep financial trouble over funding of the Falls multimillion dollar retail development.

The city was locked in a lawsuit from local residents objecting to the city issuing another $20 million in revenue bonds to pay for business incentives. (That was thrown out by a local judge.) The cost of the massive retail development to taxpayers can easily top $100 million.

Virginia Governor McAuliffe intervened to help Bristol Republicans pilfer millions of state tax dollars to bail out the project. Yet within weeks the news if reporting our good Governor plans to slash state spending $2.4 billion due to a budget shortfall. I know where he can get $100 million from.

And all of this come after recent press reports Virginia plans to plow billions more into corporate welfare and incentives to lure business from other states to locate here.

The new city taxes on admissions and cigarettes has met stiff resistance from the Chamber of Commerce and local nonprofits. The Chamber of Commerce is all for corporate welfare but its members don't want paying for it to impact their profits. Our nonprofit industry which is mainly dependent on government money anyway certainly doesn't want any of their money to be endangered.

This includes our so-called Birthplace of Country Music Museum. This $11 million mostly taxpayer-funded project is projected to create eight jobs. Its entire business plan is already questionable in my mind and an admissions tax could make the situation even worse.

According to an employee I spoke at the Weldon Cooper Center in Wise Virginia most of their income sounds like it's going to be taxpayers anyway. According to them the study was rushed and last-minute in order to receive Tobacco Grants. Now they're claiming a new study somehow contradicts the old study and is supposed to be producing tens of thousands of new jobs. Yes and I have a nice bridge for sale in London.

Another objection is from a local cigarette store George and Sid's on Commonwealth Avenue who claims its business will be damaged by two dollar a carton cigarette tax. Customers from Bristol Tennessee come to the Virginia location to save money on their cigarettes.

The other problem is all of these taxpayer underwritten concerts and public events which are already pretty expensive a lot of people here can't afford them would be forced to start paying for themselves.

One concert for example that made the promoter a half-million dollars in profits cost taxpayers $8000 in losses for police, trash pickup, etc. Politicians claim that the city came out better because we collected all this great sales tax, but if that's true why are we always raising taxes?

Our local electric utility is using $150,000 in TVA funding slated for actual economic development to underwrite another concert. Then in August voted to give away $10,000 for a local music program. This is typical for the political corruption that is Bristol Virginia-Tennessee. We socialize cost while privatizing profits. Ref. BHC July 24, 2014.

Downtown Bristol has indeed come a long way and really is a nice place to visit. The concern of this website is the poor job situation and underlying social problems that are often ignored.


Mass Immigration Killing the Working Poor Here Too

Immigration reform will cause even more misery for the working poor as an additional 22 million more guest workers over the next decade will further displace native born low-wage workers and already have in East Tennessee and Tri-Cities. Low-wage black workers have been driven out of the labor force across the nation by immigration and the same thing is happening to poor whites in our region as employers hunt for more cheap-exploitable labor.

In fact this has been recommended to business as a way to lower labor costs in the tourist-retirement related industries this region is promoting. Simply put they want to bring in even cheaper labor to displace the working poor that already dominates our private sector labor market. The working poor are ignored and marginalized already and so the system of social apartheid will continue to flourish.