Property Tax Hike Could Cost Jobs

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(Memphis) Jobs are on the line because of the property tax increase passed by Shelby County commissioners.

The new tax increase is having a big impact on small businesses.

Business properties are taxed at a higher rate that personal homes.

So when the county commission passed a 36-cent tax increase to fund its budget and Shelby County Schools, business owners had to take a second look at their finances.

Woodland Tree Services went into business ten years ago this week as they started cleaning up trees knocked over by Hurricane Elvis.

This July, they’re facing a financial hurricane.

“We own four buildings between two entities with Woodland Tree services that are all taxed at higher commercial rates. A lot of them are still grandfathered at the old commercial assessments and haven’t come down as the market dictates,” said Woodland CFO Andy Ellis.

So what does yesterday’s property tax mean for small businesses like Woodland? They say they are planning to pay around ten percent more in taxes.

To afford it, Woodland is planning to cut 30 percent of its staff.

“It’s going to reduce some of our hiring and it’s going to cause our layoffs to come a little earlier going into our slower season because that’s an additional bill be have to cover for that’s a 10% increase basically,” said Ellis.

Not only will Woodland be forced to hire less because of an increase in federal regulations along with the property tax hike, but they say other businesses may be discouraged from coming to Shelby County.

“If we had to make the decision again we would probably look at an outlying area if I was going to bus businesses today instead of ten years ago,” said Ellis.

Ellis says the taxes could also have the indirect impact of leaving homeowners with less money to pay for their tree services, and rent could go up for businesses looking to lease from commercial properties.

Those who support the increase say this is just businesses paying their fair share to help improve schools to improve our city’s economy in the future.