County Legislature candidate Parker: small businesses need a break
Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 9:54 am

To the Editor:

I’ve asked small business owners in St. Lawrence County what prevents them from doing more business, expanding and hiring more employees. Here’s what I’ve learned:

1) Many small business owners have more work than they can accomplish, which they could take on if they had more employees, but are reluctant to due to the uncertainty of long term, future business under the present economic conditions, and because it is expensive for them to put additional people to work.

2) The taxes and fees that are required to be paid the New York State and the federal government when or before a new employee starts work are much too high and there is too much risk that, if the new worker decides to leave, those costs are not refundable.

Fees, taxes, and the looming new health care mandates force employers to limit the amount that they can realistically offer prospective employees in wages because of the total cost to the company. If wages are not significantly higher than public assistance, it is much more difficult to attract job candidates.

3) Many of the available business loan programs require a business to hire more than a single new employee to be eligible. Some programs require a business to be rejected by a bank for a loan before they are eligible for lower interest rate loans through development loans. This seems counterintuitive. A thriving business is more likely to be approved for a bank loan (at higher interest rates) than a marginal business. Yet, the marginal business is more likely to be eligible for the lower interest rate loan.

Many pundits cite that small businesses are the workhorses of our economy, providing more new jobs than larger businesses or government. If that’s really the case, then why don’t we make it easier for them to create more jobs? Here’s an idea:

Why not allow businesses to pay fees and taxes for new employees over a period of 3 to 5 years. This way, the initial cost to the business is more manageable, and, if the employee decides to leave after a few months or a year, then the business owner is not out the full amount that he or she is now forced to pay up front. This makes sense when you consider that a new employee is not likely to immediately increase the business’s revenue, but over the course of the following 1 to 2 years, they should improve the bottom line. More closely matching the cost associated with this new employee to the anticipated increases in revenue is a more prudent business practice. Maybe our government could learn how to do something similar…

Dan Parker


St. Lawrence County Legislature

District 11