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October 19, 2009

Small Businesses to NYC: Get Off Our Backs!

City Journal
By Steven Malanga

In Bloomberg's NYC, small businesses have had an increasingly tough time...

Morton Sloan feels besieged. Over the last several years, the Bronx-based entrepreneur has watched the property taxes on the ten Morton Williams supermarkets he runs in the city swell by hundreds of thousands of dollars. Increasingly aggressive city inspectors now linger in those stores for hours, writing costly citations for items that clerks accidentally mislabel. Some of Sloan’s suppliers say they’ll no longer deliver to New York City because of the Department of Transportation’s frequent parking-ticket blitzes. It gets worse: a new Bloomberg-administration program that encourages fruit and vegetable vendors to set up on street corners has left him scrambling to match prices with competitors who don’t have to pay rent, utilities, payroll taxes, and various other expenses. And now the city wants to plunk a 60,000-square-foot supermarket into a heavily subsidized new development just blocks from two of his stores. “I’ve never received a subsidy or asked anything of the city in 35 years, except to be left alone to do business,” Sloan says. “But everywhere I look these days, it seems like the city is trying to make life tough for me.”

...at the same time that the City has increased handouts to megaprojects like Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards:

Bloomberg is also seen—for good reason—as a friend to big, sweeping, government-designed economic projects that displace local businesses through eminent domain. He has supported everything from the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn to a massive new development in Willets Point, Queens, which would uproot hundreds of firms. Whatever the merits of these individual initiatives (and government’s record of picking winners in business is erratic at best), eminent-domain law as practiced in New York is a virtual death sentence to most small firms. “If government wants to displace a small business in New York and the business doesn’t own its own property, its chances of survival are slim because government pays virtually nothing to these businesses,” says Michael Rikon, an attorney at Goldstein, Goldstein, Rikon & Gottlieb in Manhattan, a firm that specializes in eminent-domain cases. “They come to me to represent them, and I often refer them directly to a bankruptcy lawyer.”


NoLandGrab: Bloomberg already increased the direct cash subsidy for Atlantic Yards from $100 million to $205 million.

Bruce Ratner is not slated to pay property taxes nor most of the other bothersome taxes that are a part of doing business in NYC. As Leona "the Queen of Mean" Helmsley was famously quoted as saying, "Only the little people pay taxes."

Posted by lumi at October 19, 2009 6:19 AM