Detroit Still Trying to Tax Business That Abandoned City 15 Years Ago

No wonder they left?


once a business, still a tax target
Michigan Capitol Confidential

Rose Bogert and her husband ran a metal straightening company in Detroit for 28 years before high taxes, slow business, and rising crime drove them out at the end of the 20th century. But the tax bills are still coming. Via the Mackiack Center for Public Policy's Michigan Capitol Confidential:

"We left Detroit and everything we owned in it," Bogaert said. "For years, they have been sending us bills on fire permits, taxes and anything else you can think of. It has been 15 years since we have been in that building and they still come."

…"This is another warning about trying to make a go of it in Detroit," said Michael LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. "The marriage of high taxes, regulation and poor services creates every sort of mischief. It's instructive that the city has the resources to go after those who have long ago fled, but not the resources to keep all its lights on today."

Bogert said when the issue first started she tried calling the city but couldn't reach anyone. Michigan Capitol Confidential couldn't either. Bogert also complained of constant city and state safety inspections, which contributed to her leaving Detroit. According to her, they lost a $20,000 settlement when a 12-year-old drove into a piece of steel the business was moving. A stolen lift truck some time later was the last straw.

Is it any wonder Detroit went bankrupt? President Obama last month committed $320 million to the city. Look for a special feature on "how to break an American city" in the current issue of Reason magazine!

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  1. It’s kind of nice that Detroit still cares enough about the people it has driven away to stay in touch like this.

  2. Metal straightening?

    That seems too specialized, little wonder it went under.

    1. Can you straighten metal?

        1. Which is why I wonder how much work an incomplete machine shop can get.

      1. Are you kidding? I was a star. I could bend a girder to any angle. 30 degrees, 32 degrees, you name it… 31…

        1. 3 radians. I want a jesus fish girder – it’s for a modern art piece.

  3. The Walking Dead series should start filming around there…

    that’s one of my problems with post-apocalyptic movies set a few years after the crash – someone is still cutting the grass on the shoulders of the road.

    1. I think you are on to something – and they can use the Detroit gubmint workers as zombie extras too.

      1. Corpse extras. Zombie do move, albeit slowly.

    2. I don’t think the True Pruners on the payroll would notice if they’d been zombified. They’d just go to work the next day and cut grass.

  4. . According to her, they lost a $20,000 settlement when a 12-year-old drove into a piece of steel the business was moving

    Wait. A business needs to make provisions for the off chance that a 12-year-old might be driving before they transport their products?

    1. Yeah I am surprised that the first comment wasn’t about this sentence. What the fuck?

    2. A 12-year-old boy driving his drunken mother ran into a piece of steel we were moving with the proper safety precautions and (they) won a $20,000 settlement.

      How else are drunken mothers going to get home?

      1. George Ryan went to prison for shit like that.

    3. Tort reform is a phony scandal right wing meme.

  5. “President Obama last month committed $320 million to the city.”

    I had no idea Obama had that kind of money.

    His salary as president is pretty low, and I didn’t think he’d get paid for making his speeches until after he was no longer president.

    He must have sold more of those “Audacity of Hope” books than I realized!

    Who knew Obama made that kind of bread?

    1. He embezzled it from the american people

      1. Oh, you mean he committed $320 million of OUR money to the city of Detroit?

        Son of a bitch!

        I don’t want to give those people any of my money.

    2. What’s really sickening is that they were deliberately trying to destroy small businesses. They are killing their tax base – DELIBERATELY – and they, and other shitheads, think they deserve a bailout.

      1. They think they deserve a bailout–from the taxpayers…

        I used to say that Detroit is proof that government employee unions will never make concessions until they have no other choice, but it’s actually worse than that. Detroit is proof that government employee unions won’t make concessions–even when there’s no other choice.

        I hope they all starve to death.

        1. What’s really amazing is when you talk to a group of Liberals they’ll just repeat the (Paul Krugman) meme that Detroit’s collapse has no connection to Democratic policies. It’s all the fault of the auto industry. Big business screwed Detroit.

  6. If they don’t kill small business, how are they going to declare areas blighted, so they can give the land to their buddies via eminent domain?

    1. You can’t give a lot of that land away.

      It is entirely possible for land to be worth less than zero–especially if you have to pay insurance and taxes for it.

      1. There’s was a scam for a while where gullible German’s were suckered into buying Detroit houses for $1,000. I guess they thought Americans were idiots to pass up on such great deals. Of course, it didn’t occur to them that property taxes weren’t based on the amount they paid for the property, but the assessed value including the house. Which was why anybody with any knowledge was not buying the houses. With the expected property tax payments the lots had a negative value.

        Dave Ramsey often makes the point on his show to never own property in an area you aren’t familiar with. It’s good advice. Even if the original purchase is a decent deal, it’s quite easy for the local politicians to construct fees and taxes in a way that hits non-voters a lot harder than voters.

        1. Back when I was a renter, I came up with the Pizza Delivery Standard for whether you want to rent in a neighborhood or not.

          Find a pizza shop in the neighborhood that delivers, and ask them if they deliver to where you’re looking at renting. If they don’t deliver there, you don’t want to live there.

    2. No, it’s not about that, though that’s clearly a perk. It’s much more direct. Small businesses compete with unions and government employees.

  7. Actually, some small businesses are making it in the center of Detroit–the coolest one is Shinola, but there are many others (Nora, Sy Thai, Avalon, Slows–featured on Eat Street last night–Good Girls Go to Paris, etc.) They’re all run by twenty-somethings who are determined to bring Detroit back, despite the shit they get from city government.

    And there’s even The Downtown Synagogue, a wildly successful Conservativish synagogue made up of the same demographic (and an eighty-something president).

    Much of this stuff was highlighted at TedXDetroit, held this past Wednesday.

    I know some of it is subsidy and tax break-based, but there’s a level of excitement around the Midtown and Downtown area that’s palpable. So I’m not leaving, despite stories like this one, which are also really part of the situation here.

    P.S. I had put links to all these places, but the squirrels don’t like more than two url’s in a posting–guess it gives them indigestion.

    1. Re: Geoff Nathan,

      They’re all run by twenty-somethings who are determined to bring Detroit back, despite the shit they get from city government.

      Don’t you just love the charming naivete and idealism of the young and stupid?

      1. Actually, they do–the name was deliberately chosen in reference to the phrase (and the old product that the proverb refers to). I heard the founder speak at TedxDetroit the other day, and it was in his ppt. Talk about hurling defiance at adversity. Or something…

    2. A synagogue is not a business (legally speaking).

      1. Yeah, but they still have to deal with the same zoning, building and other regulatory shit as everyone else. Not to mention the city-run electrical power system, which had a failure two weeks ago that pretty much closed downtown and midtown (including Wayne State–can’t hold classes in the dark).

  8. In my town, they try to charge the owners of abandoned property for having to cut the grass.

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