Fiscal cliff poses uncertainties for local businesses

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Uncertainties over the looming fiscal cliff are affecting local businesses as they head into the new year.

By this time of year, businesses normally already have their plans in place for the following year regarding payroll, budgeting and hiring, but with many factors left undetermined by congress, it's postponing these plans.

"It's sort of a scary thought," said Ryan Dittmer, co-owner of Wraps on Main in Grand Junction. "What we're going to be running into now is guessing what the future holds for us. It'll be a hit or miss thing, whether or not we'll be able to keep our doors open or not."

With the Bush-era tax break set to expire on Dec. 31st, Americans will see an additional two percent taken from every dollar of income. Dittmer believes the impact on consumer's income will negatively affect how many customers come through his doors.

"With the higher tax rate, we'll have less business coming in overall," he said. "It's based on both consumers' confidence and actual ability to spend."

Jerry Martinez, owner of Jerry Martinez Insurance Agency, operates his business single-handedly right now but said he hopes to expand in the upcoming year. However, he said he is concerned about not knowing yet what the tax outlook is.

"It makes it rather difficult to move ahead with some of those decisions right now not knowing what those tax consequences are going to be," Martinez said.

According to a survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses, only five percent of small business owners say they plan to add new jobs in the next three to six months.

While E-Waste Recycling C.E.O. Ken Burns said his business is growing rapidly, he worries about what will happen if people lose their unemployment or social security benefits.

"When people can't afford to live or to eat, it's going to become a very bad situation," Burns said. "People aren't going to be recycling things. Instead they're going to try to tare things apart themselves, which is very dangerous, and they're going to try to take those things to the scrap yard to make money off of it because they don't have any money."

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