Jackson County businessman says tax hikes might force departure
Ken Rhude wonders whether he still belongs in Jackson County.
The president of Carbondale Craft Beer, Rhude worries that his business is going to suffer from the 1 percent sales tax increase to help pay for improvements to county schools that went into effect on July 1.
“I know the schools in Murphysboro are in trouble and really need the money,” Rhude told the SW Illinois News. “But there’s no question: This will make things harder for small-business owners here like myself.”
So much so that Rhude is considering taking his business and family elsewhere.
“I’m thinking of leaving the state and heading for Colorado, California, or maybe even New Zealand,” he said. “I have a 12-year-old daughter, and all the uncertainty about the schools here and now the tax situation are two pretty big reasons why I'm thinking that way.”
After the lease ran out on his Little Egypt Beer location in Ava, Rhude had been eyeing setting up shop in Carbondale -- before the City Council last summer approved a 4 percent tax increase on food and beverages sold in restaurants, hotels and bars that also went into effect on July 1.
Carbondale's 11.75 percent sales tax will make it the highest in Southern Illinois.
“The Carbondale tax is already doing damage,” he said. “Businesses have already reported significant losses from the first quarter of the tax. All the owners I’ve talked to are frightened and concerned about the taxes.”
Making matters worse, Rhude said some Carbondale business owners were caught off guard by the county sales tax increase.
“The way they do things in Carbondale, there is a minimum amount of reporting before everything is slammed on everyone in about two weeks,” he said. “I spoke with city government, and they were just mean. I thought some adults would ultimately step up and take over, but that hasn’t happened.”