“This thing started with me, my buddy and a paintbrush.
It was all bootstrapped. We ran the businesses out of two garages and a den at our secretary’s house. Now we have anywhere from 20 to 40 guys working for us. I’m really proud of it. It’s what I’ve spent my entire adult life doing. But if I could move my business we’d be out of here in a second …
We came here to Bellwood in 2011 because there were some really great deals for spaces. So we took a building that was sitting here vacant for six years in a rough town and made it inhabitable. We thought we were doing a service here. It didn’t have fire alarms, it didn’t have up-to-date electric, the ceilings were collapsed, leaks, rodents, you name it.
We fixed it all up. But then the property taxes hit.
The first bill was about $11,000. That’s what I was expecting. But the second installment was $54,000 because an exemption didn’t go through. There was no way we could have prepared for it.
We eventually got a refund on part of that, but the taxes have just gone up ever since. Over four years we’ve paid $150,000 in property taxes on a building we bought for $170,000. It’s insanity.
We’re not talking about a company doing hundreds of millions in revenue. We’re a service painting business employing people in the local community.
When my dad was doing this in his generation, it was the classic story. Buying your first house, starting a business, working hard, always making payments on time, saving enough money enough to buy a building for the business, making that payment on time every month. You grow.
That would be a story of success: A home worth more than you paid for it and a commercial building that’s gained value.
My experience has been the opposite. I get taxed to death on my business and my home and the values go down.
I look at places like Denver and Dallas where people are moving and I know my story would have been different there. It would have been like my dad’s.”