Friday, July 17, 2009
The cost of doing business
So yes, as an Amherst Town Meeting member with too many years business experience I will of course support the property tax break for Atkins Farm stand my South Amherst business neighbor. But if somebody asked me over the past 20 years or so for a list of the top retail businesses in Amherst, Atkins would be high on my list.
And I remember 45 years or so ago when they were neck-and-neck with Wentworth Farms for farm stand fresh produce sales. At the time Atkins was on the other side of the main road and they had a GIANT bright red apple on top of the tiny farm stand.
But today anytime you drive or cycle by during business hours the Atkins parking lot is overflowing. Wentworth Farms is long gone.
Good for me of course since the building I have occupied for the past 26 years or so was originally apple storage for Wentworth Farms, thus if they had not gone belly up due to Atkins…
But how about the Lord Jeffery Inn? Yeah, I know--they are owned by tax-exempt Amherst College who has a BILLION in their endowment. But a year ago it was a LOT higher than that. Thus they cancelled the $20 million renovation of their cozy Inn, although they seem to find the cash to do millions in renovations to their other tax-exempt infrastructure.
Now the decaying Lord Jeff sits forlornly in town center as a high profile public embarrassment. Why not offer Amherst College a tax break over the next five years or so to do the damn renovation?
The Lord Jeff generates collateral business for everybody in the downtown and when Amherst increases the hotel/motel tax to 6% (that too, I will support) the Lord Jeff would pass thru over $100,000 annually to the town.
If we can subsidize Atkins why not Amherst College?