Noth implies we as merchants on Broad Street are raking in money and profits. We are not. We are trying to survive. I do not think you have a very clear understanding of the complexities of running a small business, especially in a very difficult time for all of us.
With some tax increases in the 50 percent range, this additional burden may very well create more empty buildings on Broad Street. Some will say “What’s the use?” and simply give up. Saying in your column that we should be grateful for the increase in value of downtown property is absurd — especially when we certainly do not need additional expenses. The “increase in value” is simply the assessor’s calculation of the assessment. While I’m sure they have used due diligence in their assessments, the numbers have not been reflected in the comps for 2011 for actual sales which is where the true “value” lies. I can assure you that the banks will not and should not lend money on the properties based on the current tax assessments as opposed to actual values.
I have seen many ups and downs over the years. I grew up during the real depression years, and this one is the worst since then. Today is not like the Thirties, and I’m very thankful for that. Most of us are working hard to make sure we outlast this current downturn and not become one of the casualties. Better times will come, but we don’t know when and we don’t know how long the current situation will last. Just like we all do at home, all of us in small business have tightened up our belts and watched expenses very carefully. It’s how you stay around for the long haul.
I am an old man but I still work. I am 85-years-old, and I have worked on Broad Street for almost 60 years. I did not expect to work this long, but I do what I can to help the younger ones coming along behind me. I am grateful that my wife and I made the decision to move to Rome, Georgia, so many years ago. We love Rome and believe this city has a great future. That is why we have stayed and continue to stay and invest in this community and in Broad Street.
However, the tax assessments for the majority of Broad Street seem to be way out of line with the reality of the situation. In the 300 block of Broad we have an approximately 30 percent vacancy rate. If the comps don’t back up the assessments and with expenses having to be managed so tightly, a business or property owner has no choice but to appeal. I know that our local government needs revenue to operate, but it should not be an undue burden on a few.