Henrico restaurant owner on proposed meals tax: It scares me

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - Henrico County leaders got an earful at the first public meeting on a proposed new meal tax for the area.

Henrico restaurant owner on proposed meals tax: It scares me

Many small business owners voiced concerns that the new tax will have a negative impact on their restaurants.

"We just opened and it makes me feel nervous," said John Haggai who is concerned the proposed 4 percent meals tax would cut into his business.

"We hired a bunch of people. We are making investments in the community and we a want to be here for a long time," said Haggai. "So our business is really important, and it scares me."

The concern is that 95 percent of the meals tax would be generated through restaurants. 5 percent would come from places like grocery stores.

County officials say the tax would funnel as much $18 million into county schools.

"So if the meals tax fails then we are looking at a real estate tax increase and we also are looking at service reductions," said county manager John Vithoulkas.

County officials painted a dire picture if residents vote no on the referendum in November.

"We are talking now about being at the point where people may lose jobs," said a panelist.

But John and many others like him are still skeptical of a proposal they say unfairly targets restaurants.

"If education is that important and we need that money," said Haggai. "Lets look at other ways to do that collectively. Lets raise that money. Lets do it together, but don't target us."

About 40 percent of the revenue would be paid by nonresidents, who come to Henrico for business or pleasure, according to officials.