Columbus businessman refuses to pay taxes

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Most people pay their taxes whether they want to or not. But one Columbus businessman has decided to stop paying. He said he’s is fed up with crime in his neighborhood and will not pay the city until something is done about it.

“Used to be a door around the corner here, it’s gone. We cement blocked that one in. Right here? Why’d you do that? One less door to worry about. We replaced more doors than MI Homes did last year.”

That’s Jim Eigensee. He owns Borcher’s Carpet Cleaning Company on South Front Street – a company that’s been around for 128 years. Over the years Eigensee has paid his taxes like most business owners. But he recently sent a letter to the City of Columbus stating he’s withholding his payroll taxes until something is done about the crime in his area. For the time being Eigensee is depositing his tax bill into an escrow account.

On this day Eigensee describes some of the recent damage vandals have done to his building.

“This used to be seven rooms til they burned it up. This whole area where it’s grown up used to be part of the building? Yep, that was all part of our operation,” Eigensee said.

The seven rooms Eigensee speaks of were destroyed about two-and-a-half years ago by arson. No one was prosecuted.

And that’s just the beginning of a very long list of problems Eigensee said his business has had over the years. Since November he said there have been seven break-ins.

Eigensee accuses the homeless living in the area of breaking in and vandalizing his building. There used to be a few homeless people camping on his property. They have since moved on. But Eigensee said the problems continue.

“Fax machine stolen, laptop stolen, stamps were stolen, $4.33 worth of silver. They stole the gum ball machine,” Eigensee listed.

Eigensee has an alarm system. And he’s considered other security measures.

“Have you thought about putting a rottwieler in here? I was thinking more of a tiger with a really bad attitude. I thought about it, but I can’t do that to a dog. He doesn’t want to be exposed to those people,” Eigensee said.

Columbus Lace Dry Cleaning is next door to Eigensee’s business. Steve Smith runs the dry cleaning service with his brother and said they, too, have an alarm system. But Smith said that does not always faze the person breaking in.

“Before they’ve gotten scared off tired to pull the wires out of the system or try to get up front and find the money,” Smith said.

Eigensee said he’s written many letters over the years to City Hall. He said since his letters have not initiated action from the city, he’s decided to take a different approach.

“If you start messing with their money, then they get interested,” Eigensee said.

Eigensee’s refusal to pay his taxes and media exposure have gotten the city’s attention.

Mary Webster who chairs the city’s homeless protocol committee is now working on the complaint. She said she did not know about Eigensee’s problems until he notified the media about the story.

“We were not aware of it until we heard from him that he was going to withhold his taxes,” Webster said.

Webster said she and a Community Shelter Board representative spoke with Eigensee about his complaints. She said workers helped Eigensee clean up what was left of the homeless camp even though it was private property.

“The city has taken this on as its responsibility. It’s not necessarily the city’s responsibility. But the mayor and council president Mentel have decided to take this on and make it the city’s responsibility. But it’s a partnership; it involves the property owners as well,” Webster said. Eigensee also blames Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman and city council for not hiring enough police officers to patrol his neighborhood.

Zone Five Commander Richard Bash said about five cars patrol each precinct. But he said that varies from day to day.

“Certainly we could use more police officers, and that would be the ideal. But having officers available just to do routine patrol looking for those types of crimes, that’s a premium,” Bash said.

Since the clean up Monday, Eigensee said a couch he does not own has been moved back onto his property. And he still plans to continue to withhold his payroll taxes because he said nothing has been done about crime in the area.