A Tax Write-Off...For Some People, Anyway
Mayor Victor Ashe made some club owners happy this week by proposing exemptions for small businesses of Knoxville's entertainment tax (a cause championed in our own editorial columns not long ago), but many venues are being left out of the show.
The Mayor is asking the 5 percent tax be axed only in the Central Business Improvement District, which runs from the Old City to the river and includes downtown and the World's Fair Park. (The tax is in addition to the 8.25 percent sales tax.) That means venues outside downtown will still have to pay the entertainment levy, which promoters have long complained cripples Knoxville's entertainment scene and makes it tough for small clubs to survive.
City spokesman Craig Griffith says the proposal goes along with other city initiatives to revitalize downtown. But club owners outside the CBID are perturbed. "I don't think it's fair," says Mike Cole, part owner of the Fourth and Gill blues joint Sassy Ann's. "Five blocks down the street is the Old City." Also upset is Sean Blair, owner of Barley & Hopps on Cumberland: "What about equal taxation for all? It's crazy. The Mayor says [the tax] is detrimental for a small entertainment business, but why set the boundaries downtown? I'm already in business and paying taxes."
Still, nightlife guru Ashley Capps of A.C. Entertainment says the Mayor's request is a good first step toward eliminating the entertainment tax altogether.
"A 13.25 percent tax on anything is too high," he says. "But this is certainly a step in the right direction."
A Modest Proposal
Taxpayers mad about the occasional lame duck local legislator flying off to quasi-educational junkets in faraway places on the public nickel are perhaps just not seeing the big picture. Maybe we should be wondering whether any of our globetrotting public servants, lame or not, bring back anything for our money. Consider, for example, the performance of Vice Mayor Jack Sharp at the most recent Council meeting when it came time to consider extending the contract for Nashville lobbyist Tony Thompson. Sharp, who had apparently agreed beforehand to make the motion to approve the extension, didn't so much as clear his throat when Mayor Victor Ashe asked, "Do I hear a motion?" After repeating the question, Ashe attempted to clue in the man he calls "the best vice mayor Knoxville ever had," by point-blank asking Sharp if he was going to move to approve. Sharp, startled, responded by shuffling papers and asking, "What page are we on?" Then he said he didn't have an agenda. The next day, he and six other Council members flew off to Philly for an educational experience.
Solution: Give 'em a pop quiz.
A recent outbreak of suspected arsons in the Fort Sanders area has spurred concerned residents to create a Fire Fund for the victims. University of Tennessee students Mike Holder and Meredith Funkhouser, both of whom live in the area, have organized a campaign to help replace the items destroyed in the fires by asking for any donations, from small household appliances and clothing to furniture. A few large pieces of furniture have been donated, along with several smaller pieces and some large bags of clothing and a few gift certificates. The effort is being coordinated with the support of BW-3 in the Old City; to make contributions or volunteer, call the restaurant at 522-4293.
Attention All Local Lobbyists
Speaking of worthy fundraisers, Tribe One will be holding one at Calhoun's on the River on Sunday, Dec. 21, at 6 p.m. Tribe One is the group dedicated to keeping inner city youths alive and out of jail. It also happens to be headed up by Chris Woodhull and soon-to-be-City-Councilman Danny Mayfieldso if you want to do a good deed and sidle up to a future mover and shaker, this is the event for you.