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Rickie Williams asks: About hotel? About insurance tax

Rickie Williams writes:
Below is a copy of an article from your site from approximately one year ago. (Here's a link to the article he sent: Adair Fiscal Court Meeting April 13, 2010 report)

I haven't heard a thing about it since.

I have two related to the not...:
  1. What is the status of the new Hotel project at/near Holladay Place?
  2. To my knowledge, every insurance policy in Columbia city limits is charged an extra tax of something around 11 to 11.5%. What becomes of those tax dollars? One physician told me he moved from the city limits to escape the tax...another moved out of the area altogether. Should this tax be reconsidered? Or is having it in place keeping some other tax from increasing?
s/Rickie Williams
Editor comments Ricky Williams: You're right: it has been very quiet on the new hotel/motel, in fact I hear more about the reopening of the Wilmore Hotel in Gradyville and the possibility of Miss Victoria's Boarding House, Bread, Bed and Breakfast House, Tourist Home, and Home Away from Home for Families of Refinement than about the Hotel, but I haven't lost faith that it will come - maybe not as soon as Junior Stotts gets his section of the Chattanooga Highway complete, but soon.

As for the Insurance Tax. The insurance tax in Columbia is a great stealth tax which is extracted so painlessly no one really knows anyone has been in their pocket unless they occasionally audit their bank statement.

The Insurance Tax is Columbia's equivalent to neighboring communities' payroll tax. By having the insurance tax, there's not much chance of a payroll tax also being imposed. This makes it very nice for say, a Lindsey Wilson or Westlake employee living outside of Columbia: They pay no payroll tax because Columbia doesn't have any, and because they live in the country, they pay no insurance tax.

For some others, who live in Columbia and work at, say, Amazon in Campbellsville, they get to pay the high insurance tax in Columbia, and never notice it if they don't audit their checking account or insurance bills, and then have the privilege of chipping in for the payroll tax in Taylor County, which they won't even notice unless they look at their pay vouchers.

For the Lindsey Wilson folk who live in, say, the Jones-Wright Addition and own property, they get to pay Columbia's high insurance tax.

If these folks have apartments to rent to doctors at Westlake, they could very easily find that Columbia's insurance tax on malpractice policies could easily exceed what the physican would pay in rent. That's kind of astounding, but I do know it has happened.

But who cares, so long as we have safe streets, quiet neighborhoods, and we won't get run over in a crosswalk by a kid in a Mustang or Ranger Pickup when we walk around the square; when we can enjoy a wonderful outdoor meal without a boom box shaking the windows out of the restaurant overhead; when we don't have a pedestrian fatality on the Square but once every couple of decades, when we can sleep peacefully through the night as though we were tucked away in a hollow in Dirigo? Certainly not me. The insurance tax is going to a great cause, that being so. And we'll be getting more great employees who Earn Here and live elsewhere. I shan't be a troublemaker and remind folks of it.

Besides, when a Columbian is in a bar, this high insurance tax gives her/him bragging rights. It's easier to win the argument or maybe a bet, and is more proper than arm-wrestling.

Seriously, though, if every dollar of the insurance tax is watched as though it were real money, I like the tax. If any of it is squandered, or not accounted for, I'm angry as hell.

As for any consideration on reconsidering the Insurance Tax: Don't think that will ever happen, as nobody actually seems to care. If Columbia can maintain its antiquated, small business suppressing Occupational License tax, which arguably costs more to administer than it brings in, with no complaint, why would it ever consider a change in the insurance tax?

If some of us had a magic wand, we'd do away with the Occupational License, and use the money saved to pass out Free Coffee Vouchers to tourists who overpark downtown, and have any employees checking on building violations only work with property and business owners to tell them how they can do what they want to do.

The insurance tax I'd keep but subject all expenditures to far greater scrutiny, as it appears the present City Administration is endeavoring to do. - Ed Waggener

This story was posted on 2011-04-08 08:17:49
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