Eating out in Henrico County could get more expensive. Some county officials are pushing for approval to add a meals tax in restaurants. That tax could be up to four percent, on top of the state tax of five percent.
Henrico County Manager Virgil Hazelett says the county needs the money. Hazelett says nearly $100 million has been slashed from the budget in recent years, but there's not much left to cut. Hazelett says the estimated $20 million extra in tax revenue a year could help prevent layoffs, cuts to county services or tax increases.
"We have done virtually everything we can, without eliminating employees, or reducing services…Our revenues continue to decrease," said Hazelett.
Hazelett says the county faces about an $18 million budget gap next year. He also adds that a large portion, approximately 40 percent, of the restaurant tax would likely be paid by people who live outside the county. He adds that 45 other counties in Virginia charge a meals tax in restaurants, to help alleviate costs.
To give some perspective, a four percent tax on a six dollar wrap is only 24 cents. However, a larger bill could warrant an additional several dollars to your check.
Some Henrico restaurant owners we spoke to say they wouldn't welcome the tax, but don't think it would ruin business either. Good Foods Grocery store manager Keith Perry says his lunch crowd would be most affected.
"I'd like to do anything to keep the costs of food down these days, so I wouldn't like to see it. But if it helps the city, I don't mind. I don't think most people in the community would mind if it's going towards a good cause," said Perry.
However, the added tax may dissuade some customers watching the bottom line to eat out as often.
The meals tax would have to be approved in the Virginia General Assembly, and all of Henrico County's Board of Supervisors. There will also be multiple public hearings on the issue.
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