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“Do your jobs so we can get back to doing ours” Fells Point business owners threaten to stop paying taxes

Posted at 8:36 PM, Jun 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 07:29:41-04

BALTIMORE — Fells Point business owners are coming together with an action plan after a violent weekend.

A group of around 40 businesses penned a letter to the Mayor, police commissioner, and other city leaders saying fix the problems or we aren’t paying taxes.

RELATED: Following violent weekend, dozens of Fells Point business owners threaten to withhold city taxes unless changes are made

“This letter isn’t just about Fells Point it’s really about what’s going on in the whole city,” said Su Casa Owner Nicholas Johnson. “Obviously we don’t affect the whole city but we feel the affects of what’s affecting this”

Johnson said it shouldn’t take 3 people getting shot in one night to have change in Fells Point.

He’s joined with other business owners writing a letter to the Mayor and other city leaders.

In it they say they are preparing to withhold city taxes and minor privilege and permit fees and place those funds into an escrow account.

“We’ve been paying for a business improvement district in Fells Point,” Johnson said. “That's a property tax levied on top of our existing taxes that we voluntarily pay for to provide services in the neighborhood that the city should be providing, but hasn’t been providing. We’ve already stepped up to the plate once already. We just can’t keep doing it the well is running dry.”

The demands of the letter are that the city pick up the trash.

That they enforce traffic and parking laws through tickets and towing.

They stop illegal open air alcohol and drug sales.

And that they empower police to responsibly do their job.

“It’s about my employees it’s about my family,” said Ron Furman the owner of Max’s Taphouse. “It’s about feeling safe when we come down here. We’ve seen what happened, look at the Inner Harbor it’s become an Oasis. Are we the next ones in line? We’re the tourist destination of Baltimore right now and the city cannot afford to lose Fells Point.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor’s Office sent a response in regards to the letter saying

“Mayor Scott shares the business owners’ frustrations over the violence across the city, and has ordered the Baltimore Police Department, Department of Public Works, and Department of Transportation to work collaboratively to address it. The Mayor is working tirelessly to hold people committing violence accountable, remove violent offenders from our streets, and identify illegal firearm traffickers so Baltimore residents can enjoy a night out without fear of endangerment.”

The statement did not address the business owners call to withhold taxes if they don’t see improvement.

Claudia Towles, the owner of aMuse Toys Center, said the hope is this unified front gets through and creates change.

“We’re frustrated, we’re tired, we feel that we’ve been ignored for quite some time by city hall,” Towles said. “We’re hoping to garner their attention and maybe have them engage with us so we can find solutions together.”

The business owners say the bottom line is they are asking the city to do their job so they can get back to doing theirs.

The bar owners I talked to say they’ve been closing early because of all this.

They say the alcohol sales mostly come from illegal vendors who throw late night pop up parties.