Downtown Coffee Break

Kristi Kent (left) and Rome City Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter talk about downtown issues during the monthly Downtown Coffee Break hosted Friday by the Rome News-Tribune. (Doug Walker, RN-T)

Rome City Commissioner Buzz Wachsteter implored local business owners to contact Congressman Tom Graves to express their support for the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would force Internet sellers to pay local and state sales taxes on sales that originate in the state of Georgia.

“This is a fight that I have been fighting for you for about eight or 10 years now,” Wachsteter said to merchants Friday morning at the Downtown Coffee Break. “I can tell you examples right here in Floyd County where people would go into a business, they try something on, look at different colors, they look at different models and say they want to think about it and go home (buy it off the Internet) and save 7 percent because quite often they get it shipped free.”

Wachsteter said laws are already on the books requiring Internet sellers to remit local sales taxes, but that it is going to take congressional action to enforce them. “If you don’t speak up now we don’t have a chance,” Wachsteter said.

The Georgia Municipal Association has a website where business owners can leave comments about how Internet sales have impacted their business, and the comments will be forwarded directly to Congressman Graves’ office.

During the monthly Coffee Break, hosted by the Rome News-Tribune, Kristi Kent, a spokeswoman for the Rome-Floyd Parks and Recreation Authority, also updated the business leaders about the annual Leprechaun-a-thon. The road race will take place March 15.

Merchants are being encouraged to get involved with the race and offer special deals that day. Runners will be given an armband that identifies them as race participants and allow them to take advantage of special deals being offered by the merchants.

Kent said the race would begin at 1 p.m. to encourage visitors to shop Rome before and after the race.

Megan Waters and Emily Hjort provided some information about the new Community HeART campaign with Redmond Regional Medical Center to raise awareness of February as Heart Month.

 Rome concrete artisan Bill Thornton created heart sculptures, which were then transformed by other local artists into individual, unique pieces of art. They are on display at various locations across the community.

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