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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Chesterfield Township Bureaucrats' Outrageous Business Permit "Tax" Fee

Government central planners are even more insane and ludicrous than we thought, especially in my township here in my home state of Michigan. The Chesterfield Township bureaucrats recently voted to hike the town's "business permit fee", which is really a business permit tax on small, local businesses that have registered to pay in order to keep their annual permits up to date. The tax, which is disguised as a "fee" assessed and levied on small, local businesses that are required to pay it on an annual basis to the town officials, has been hiked from an annual rate of $5 to $25.

Here's a snip from the The Voice News (a local, community newspaper that serves cities in Southeastern Michigan like Fair Haven, Algonac, New Baltimore, Chesterfield Township, Richmond, and Marysville), which goes into detail here:

Businesses in Chesterfield Township have paid the same amount for their annual permit for 30 years. However, that's all recently changed in an effort to bridge the 30 year gap and generate extra revenue for the township. More increases are on the horizon to update other decades old fees.

"It's been $5 since the '80s," Township Clerk Jan Uglis said of the business permit fees. "We've got to be financially responsible."

The board of trustees voted at the Jan. 5 meeting to increase the fee from $5 to $25.

In the midst of the economic downturn, Uglis said the township has been looking for ways to cut costs and make increases where needed. While the $25 fee might be a shock to some, Uglis said it's still low compared to other communities.

"It's a way to bring more money into the township without raising taxes," she said.

Also new is a late fee the township is imposing. For every month a business doesn't pay the permit fee, they will be charged $15. Uglis said the code enforcer will be out to make sure all businesses are in compliance and take legal action, if needed.

"It's part of the ordinance," she said.

Uglis said it was easier to change the fee to $25 outright instead of gradual yearly increases. The gradual change would have required yearly resolutions; each of which would be required to go before the board of trustees.

"I know this is a bad time, but you have to understand, your business has increased in 30 years," Uglis said.

"Even at $5 people were years behind."

When the fee was still $5 Uglis said some of the businesses had failed to pay. She said for those who hadn't paid in two years, they had to pay $10 for both years and then the $25 on top of that. It added up, she said, especially if they had to pay a late fee.

Jan Uglis, a highly-overpaid township clerk (who is, by the way, a long-time progressive/socialist Democrat and was a proud member of my old church Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, which I used to attend many years ago), is justifying the hikes, claiming that they had not gone up in recent years, but she's not telling the truth. The true reason why the township is in bad shape is because of government overspending, high taxes, (surprise, surprise!) and a police tax, which have plagued the area for a few years now.

Even one resident has complained about this action and has expressed his ardent opposition to it. The rest of the Voice article gets worse. The next couple of paragraphs showcase, in tonality, the diabolical and vile nature of the beast we call government:

The permit was put into place as a way to safeguard the business and the community. Uglis said the business has to fill out the permit and state what they sell, whether there's any kind of chemicals on the premises and emergency contact information, among others.

"If the fire department has to go in after a fire, they have to know what kind of products are inside," she said.

Considering the fact that the local government's fire department is hardly efficient and swift in the deliverance of its services, I can easily tell you that it takes more than 10 minutes for the Chesterfield Twp. Fire Department to respond to a fire on someone's property, let alone a business. This claptrap about "safeguarding the business and the community" is a ruse, because government bureaucrats, even at the local level, respond by brute force. This tax and other machinations are souped up by big business and township interests to undermine and destroy commercial activity that has been, for the longest time, the backbone of the small business community in the area. By raising this tax, they are doing exactly that.

Here's another hair-raising fact: the town even wants to skyrocket its Class C liquor license. As Uglis admits, the township is preparing to raise it from $500 (which had remained that way for 30 years) to a mind-bending $2,000. If a start-up party store (or convenience store) wants to sell booze, that's too costly for any company to pay that amount. Sure, businesses like my local CVS Pharmacy and Kroger can pay that amount, because, as long-time established businesses, they have the volumes of cash, plus the legal and accounting departments to off-set those costs. A new business with a compliment of 200 employees or less simply can't afford to do that.

At a time when the township's economy, the county's economy, and even the state's economy are in god-awful shape and unemployment is boosting at the local, county, and state levels, this will even deepen the already-known one-state depression we already have, even though it's being officially touted as a "recession."

[Cross-posted at Let Liberty Ring.]