Thursday, April 20, 2005

Businesses on N. Memphis seek tax relief

Staff Writer

W.A. McMillan submitted a resolution from the Marshall County Community Development Corp., signed by Sy Oliver and Alfred Moore, asking for a five-year tax release for 14 businesses they allege have been adversely affected by the North Memphis Street revitalization project.

The Holly Springs street improvements have been under construction since May of 2004.

The resolution alleged that the businesses have suffered adversely for two years due to the construction on North Memphis.

It appealed to the board of aldermen and mayor to approve the HSCDC resolution to aid “these struggling businesses and provide for their survival and contribute to a stronger economy in the City of Holly Springs.”

McMillan presented the resolution on behalf of the HSCDC’s president Oliver and director Moore. McMillan has served as president of the organization.

He said if the resolution was approved, the organization would go to the tax office to find out how much sales taxes were collected from the 14 businesses over several years.

Mayor Andre’ DeBerry corrected McMillan’s statement, saying that the street repair and widening was not given orders to proceed until May 2004.

“One, then,” said McMillan.

City board attorney Ki Jones advised that from a legal standpoint passing such a resolution would be tantamount to acknowledging the alleged damages.

“Are the businesses going to open up their books to show losses?” he asked. “And did you canvas the businesses to see if they had losses? The access has not been cut off.

“If the resolution says there are great financial losses, we open ourselves to a lawsuit.”

DeBerry said the city cannot adopt a resolution drawn up by another party. He encouraged businesses who think they have suffered losses to provide information substantiating them to the board.

“At least you’ve got it on your brains, right now,” McMillan said.

“If we bring this street to light, we have other streets where work is being done,” DeBerry added.

“What does this organization have to do to make you give it serious consideration?” McMillan asked.

DeBerry said showing the businesses’ revenues for the last three years would be used to determine whether those businesses experienced a slow down.

McMillan said they were willing to do more research.

“Keep in mind, as the construction is completed, the value of this land increases,” DeBerry said.

“While the grass is growing the horse is starving,” McMillan quipped. “I think something needs to be done.”

He added that the city had dirt piled up on one side of Annie’s Restaurant which prevented customers from parking there.

“So, I ask you to have compassion,” said McMillan. “Small businesses - they are not rich like some people.”

“Don’t go there Dr. McMillan,” DeBerry said.

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