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Supervisors consider placing meals tax on ballot; adopting a lodging tax

by Larry Chowning

For the fourth time in 15 years, the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors is considering placing a meals tax referendum on the November ballot.

The board also will consider a “transient lodging” tax again.

A referendum on a meals tax was rejected by Middlesex voters in 1999, 2005 and 2010.

Supervisors voted 4-1 on June 4 to consider placing a meals tax on the November ballot, and 4-1 to consider adopting a lodging tax. Harmony Village representative Jack Miller was the only supervisor to vote against the two proposals.

All three times—1999, 2005 and 2010—Middlesex voters soundly defeated the meals tax referendum.

During discussions of the proposed FY14 county budget earlier this year, supervisors agreed if they were going to raise real estate taxes they would also consider a meals tax. They felt a need to provide some relief for real estate landowners and a meals tax might offer that relief.

Saluda District supervisor Pete Mansfield, who had made the motion to increase the county real estate tax rate by 2 cents at an earlier budget meeting, wanted to drop a portion of the 2-cent real estate tax increase if a meals tax was approved this November.

“We just can’t keep putting all the tax burden on real estate,” said Mansfield at the June 4 meeting. “We’ve got to find other ways to generate revenue.”

About 80% of Middlesex County revenue comes from real estate taxes.

In 2010 the meals tax was defeated with 56% of the vote against it. The only precinct that voted in favor of a meals tax was Urbanna. Restaurants in Urbanna, however, would not be subject to a county meals tax since the town already has a 5% meals tax that generates over $80,000 annually.

At the June 4 meeting supervisors requested that county attorney Mike Soberick draft resolutions considering both meals and transient lodging taxes and present them to the board at its meeting on July 2.

Read the rest of this story in this week’s Southside Sentinel at newstands throughout the county, or sign up here to receive a print and/or electronic pdf subscription.

posted 06.12.2013

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