Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rat Tax Infestation

In today's NY Daily News, the Manhattan Institute's Steve Malanga warns New Yorkers about the tax hikes that are sure to come once the city's fiscal situation takes the upcoming downturn. As Malanga points out; "With the national economy apparently heading for a dip and Wall Street firms reporting lower earnings and cutting jobs, New York City may soon be facing its biggest fiscal jam since the recession that occurred in the aftermath of 9/11."

The situation is made worse by the fact that Mayor Mike has not seen fiscal discipline as a high priority-and has turned a blind eye to the plight of overtaxed and over-regulated homeowners and small businesses. As Malanga says, "But the mayor has done little to try to rein in costs." In addition, there has been no effort to trim the size of government or to search for innovative ways to do more with less, which is why he has one the strong support of the "tax 'em till they drop crowd."

All of which doesn't bode well for the small retailers in this city who are constantly under the gun from an over-zealous regulatory bureaucracy. Here Malanga makes his strongest point;
"In the meantime, businesses, which have been paying far higher property tax rates and haven't gotten any rebates, can forget about long-awaited tax relief. They will continue to pay the highest taxes of any business community in the country. If the recent past is any indication, small businesses in particular will bear the brunt of higher licensing fees and increased fines."

When the city really puts its mind to it it is unbelievably effective at extorting money from the small business folks. The just released Mayor's Management Report highlights this larcenous skill in relation to restaurant inspections. As the NY Post reports, the city flunked one out of four restaurants in the past fiscal year, leading our friend and small business advocate Rob Bookman to say; "This doesn't surprise me at all," said Rob Bookman, a lawyer for the New York Nightlife Association. "I think it's probably reflective of the larger number of violations they're issuing in general. Their position seems to be compliance through fines."

And fine they will. And tax they will. And trim the sails of Big Government they won't-not with a mayor who doesn't have a municipal cost-cutting bone in his body and who wanted to use the Charter Revision process to give the Department of Consumer Affairs even more judge and jury regulatory power over helpless retailers. Even the NY Times felt that this went to far.

In six years in office the mayor has not attempted to address the nature of the city's unfair kangaroo administrative courts, procedures that can threaten a business' livelihood without the requisite due process protections. As one keen observer who has defended businesses before the city points out:
"For workers and businesses licensed by the city — street vendors, taxi drivers, restaurants, grocery stores and dry cleaners among others — the courts wield tremendous power...I can also state without reservation that the taxi drivers I have represented have little confidence in the fairness of the commission's court. This is in large measure because its judges are hired by the commission, and can be fired or have their hours reduced at any time. In short, their paychecks depend on the commission."

So all we can hope is that the next mayor has a greater sensitivity towards the tax payers and businesses than does the current out-of-touch billionaire. Until then the two-legged rats will run free and continue to unleash inspector torment on the hard working retailers and restauranteurs of this over-regulated municipality.