Sprawl-Busters Newsflash Blog - Anti-Sprawl news since 1998.
Subscribe to Sprawl-Busters Blog Follow Sprawl Busters on Twitter
Occupy Walmart & Order Al's Books Movies Newsflash! The Case Against Sprawl Home Towns Not Home Depot Victories Your Battles About Us Contact Us  

recent news

List articles
by the month:

2018
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2017
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2016
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2015
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2014
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2013
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2012
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2011
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2010
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2009
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2008
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2007
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2006
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2005
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2004
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2003
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2002
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2001
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

2000
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1999
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC

1998
JAN FEB MAR
APR MAY JUN
JUL AUG SEP
OCT NOV DEC


Search database by text:

2002-12-10
Birmingham, AL. Residents Fight Against "The Wal-Mart Tax".

Residents in Birmingham, Alabama don't want to pay what they call "the Wal-Mart Tax." According to the group Birmingham First, "Wal-Mart is demanding large sums of your tax dollars from the city." The group says the city of Birmingham has agreed to give Wal-Mart $10 million in tax breaks to re-locate on the site of an abandoned Kmart in the Roebuck Section of Birmingham. "For five years when you shop at the new Wal-Mart," the group explains, "you will still pay your sales tax but instead of giving it to the city, Wal-Mart will keep it and send it back to Arkansas. You are still paying the tax but Wal-Mart is keeping it in its pocket." Birmingham First says that the supercenter will not be a job generator, because Wal-Mart will be closing its store in nearby Huffman in order to move, and the people who work there will be given the new jobs. It's just old jobs in new aprons. Alabama already has 18 "dark stores" that Wal-Mart has abandoned, including one in Birmingham. The city is also threatening to take by eminent domain the property of those businesses located where Wal-Mart has decided to go if the businesses refuse to sell to Wal-Mart. This will result in the relocation or elimination of over 20 locally owned businesses with good paying jobs, not the minimum wage, part time jobs that Wal-Mart provides. There will be a net loss of jobs and a net loss of gross income for local residents, Birmingham First says. "Let the citizens decide if they want to give the richest company in the world between $ 10 and $20 million dollars for nothing in return," the group argues. According to a report in the Birmingham Post-Herald, last March, the City Council voted to use the city's condemnation powers to facilitate the construction of Wal-Mart where the old American Store and Kmart used to be located. The city could use eminent domain powers if necessary to clear the way for Wal-Mart. Under the corporate welfare plan for Wal-Mart, the city will return to the retailer 90% of Wal-Mart's sales tax, up to $10 million over five years. One Councilwoman claimed that Wal-Mart would "bring other businesses with them into the vicinity. It will be just a tremendous shot in the arm to that little corner." Or maybe a shot to the head, as Wal-Mart continues to force other stores to close, such as the Kmart which once occupied the parcel slated now for Wal-Mart. The Wal-Mart discount store in the Huffman area of Birmingham will be shut down, so the Roebuck supercenter would be the Wal-Mart focal point for the city -- until they build even more. Wal-Mart has to acquire 32 properties for its supercenter. But Birmingham First argues that if Wal-Mart is to come at all, they should be financially able to swing the deal without public subsidies, which give the store yet one more advantage over its smaller competitors. The idea of giving a company with $6 billion in profits last year a $10 million tax break is absurd. "A $10 million gift and the proposed condemnation are inappropriate from a legal and public interest viewpoint," opponents said. "Not only is such a gift outside the intended scope of the statutory powers of eminent domain, that same $10 million could be used by the city to hire over 200 new school teachers, or over 300 police officers." Birmingham City Councilman Joel Montgomery has sided with Birmingham First. "We're sending a message to every person that wants to
open up a small business in Birmingham that if a huge special interest corporation wants to come in here, we'll get rid of you and if we want to we can declare eminent domain and take your property and put them there," he said.
Chris Curran, owner of Spuds Pub, told the newspaper that the city has put a gun to owners' heads. "Anybody who has been signing contracts with Wal-Mart
is signing under duress," Curran said. "That means: Here's our contract, sign it and if you don't sign it, we'll take it. ... They (city officials) just want a trophy, and they don't mind pushing us out of the way to have that trophy." "My clientele is in that area," he said. " I want to stay where my loyal clientele are." In nearby Trussville, a Wal-Mart supercenter received the same kind of corporate welfare to complete road improvements. The city of Trussville agreed to use 75 percent of the sales tax generated by Wal-Mart, or up to $3 million, to pay for roads, drainage and other public infrastructure.


What you can do: Birmingham First is in the process of placing a referendum question on the ballot that would eliminate the $10 million tax give back. When the required number of signatures are gathered and submitted, the city council will have 20 days to either adopt the resolution or schedule a special election to have the citizens of Birmingham vote on the issue. Tripp Galloway, spokesperson for Birmingham First stated: "We are confident that when this issue is placed before the voters the repealing of a tax give-back is an issue that will resonate with the voters. All voters that we have encountered through this effort have been extremely supportive." Birmingham First also believes that at a time when the school department has a $17 million deficit and the city council is considering raising property taxes to make up the difference is no time to be telling Wal-Mart to keep the $10 million in sales taxes that they will collect from the citizens of Birmingham. If the city council goes forward and closes five public streets in order to appease Wal-Mart then the group would also seek a referendum blocking this effort. For more local information, contact Francis Galloway at 205-871-2183. Search this database by "corporate welfare" for other examples of unfair tax advantages given to wealthy developers.










 
 
"Norman has become the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement" ~ 60 Minutes

info@sprawl-busters.com
Strategic Planning ~ Field Operations
Voter Campaigns 
21 Grinnell St, Greenfield ~ MA 01301
(413) 772-6289