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Meals tax expected to generate $337,830

by Larry Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a 4% meals and beverage tax ordinance that will go into effect July 1, 2014.

The first payment of the collected tax revenue from county restaurants will be due August 20, 2014.

County administrator Matt Walker estimated the tax will generate $337,830 annually, with $168,915 going toward capital improvements, $84,000 going to general fund, and $84,000 going to fire, rescue and emergency services. The county commissioner of the revenue will be in charge of enforcing the tax, he said.

Supervisors also agreed to pay a commission of 5% of the total taxes collected to the restaurants and other food businesses for calculating and paying the tax on time. Walker noted that most counties only give a 3% commission.

Walker noted the meals tax issue had been down a “long road to get to this point.” The county attempted meals tax referendums in 1999, 2005, and 2010, but all were defeated by Middlesex voters. It finally was approved in last month’s election with 2,100 votes for the tax and 1,600 against.

Walker also noted the tax could not be higher than 4%, unless there was legislative approval to allow a higher tax on meals and drinks.

Exempt from the tax are vending machines, boarding houses that do not serve regular meals, industrial cafeterias, volunteer and nonprofit fund-raising dinners, school cafeterias, hospitals, and day cares.

At the public hearing, Dan Downs of Hartfield thanked the board of supervisors and Walker for informing the public of the importance of the meals tax prior to the election. “This would never have been passed had it not been for the hard work of our county administrator and the members of our board of supervisors,” he said.

posted 12.05.2013

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