A meals tax is back on the table in Chesterfield County, but it will be up to voters to decide if it becomes a reality.
Chesterfield Supervisors unanimously decided to put a meals tax to a November vote, asking voters to consider a tax of up to 4% when dining out. Money would be earmarked for public safety and education.
Joan Mitchell has owned Klara's Kitchun for 30 years, and says the economy has been tough.
"The last five years have been the worst," said Mitchell.
The idea of a meals tax is difficult for her to swallow.
"That's going to take that much more out of peoples pockets to be able to eat out," said Mitchell. "So no, I'm not happy about it. If it were to pass, I'm not sure I will survive another two years. Simple as that. Cause like I've said, it's been a real struggle for the last five years."
If the tax passed, supervisors say the money would be marked for much-needed school upgrades and public safety, both of which have also had to make sacrifices because of the economy.
For Chesterfield resident Bill Clements, that's enough to consider voting "yes".
"If it went to schools only, but it would have to be guaranteed that it was going to the schools," said Clements.
But others aren't pleased with the thought of more taxes.
"I don't think we need it," said resident Linda-Sue Dickey. "I don't want it. I think we pay enough in taxes. Grocery bills going up, everything's going up except income!
Right now, the phrase being used for that meals tax is "up to" 4%. The supervisors can still decide to put forth a meals tax that is perhaps less than that - 1%, 2%, 3%. We'll know more about that as we get closer to November.
Statements from the board members:
Dan Gecker – The Board of Supervisors unanimously supports putting a meals tax before voters. School revitalizations and public safety are critically important to the future of the county.
Steve Elswick- During the development of our Comprehensive Plan, Chesterfield County School Board, the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors identified the Revitalization of our Public Schools as an important component of the County's future. Our School System impacts our real estate values and our ability to attract future citizens and businesses that bring high paying jobs.
The Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on April 24, to place a Bond Referendum for Schools and our Public Safety Radio System on the November 5 ballot.
The Board also voted to place a meals tax of up to 4 cents on the November ballot to fund these projects. We think it is prudent to ask Chesterfield County Citizens if they want to revitalize their Schools and if they would be willing to pay for these projects with a meals tax. I like putting this in front of the voters.
In the end, our Citizens will decide whether to do the referendum, and if they approve it, whether to pay for it with a meals tax. If the bond referendum is approved and the meals tax defeated, then the only way to fund the Bond Referendum is through a property tax increase.
The Public Safety Emergency Radio System has to be replaced due to its age and to enable us to continue to talk to the surrounding jurisdictions during an emergency. The decision before the voters on this project is how we pay for it.
Dorothy Jaeckle – " It is very important that we upgrade and renovate our older schools and purchase our new radio system for Public Safety. Our revenue for the next five years is projected to barely cover inflation. The passage of the meals tax will enable us to go through with the projects without cuts to the level of service our citizens expect from Chesterfield County."
Art Warren – Has not yet responded.
Jim Holland- Has not yet responded.
Statements made back in January: http://www.nbc12.com/story/20680726/chesterfield-board-of-supervisors-meal-tax-opinions
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