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Posted October 24, 2012 | comments 4 Comments

County to seek meals, hotel tax increase

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL -- A proposal seen as a way to help the town recoup money it loses on the U.S. 522-340 corridor in Warren County appears headed to area state legislators.

The county plans to seek authority from the state to raise the meals tax rate from 4 percent to 6 percent and the lodging tax from 2 percent to 4 percent.

Even if the Virginia General Assembly approves Warren County's request, the Board of Supervisors must hold a public hearing on the proposed increases and then vote on the whether to raise the rates. County Administrator Douglas Stanley on Wednesday said officials plan to meet with legislators to present the drafted language of the proposed amendment to the state code.

Supervisors at a work session Tuesday endorsed the proposal. Supervisor Tony Carter did not attend, but members noted he expressed his support at a previous meeting for the rates as proposed.

"For us, it was the pros and cons of if you go for the whole apple and ask for 4 cents [on the dollar] you could very well not end up with anything," Stanley said. "Well, let's try to get something that is passable at the General Assembly level. ... This would be countywide, so we'd be collecting from places like Linden. The county may be in a position to augment that revenue."

Stanley read from an Oct. 10 letter he received from Town Manager Steven Burke regarding the county's proposed taxing request.

"As previously communicated to you, the Town would like to achieve a mutually beneficial resolution with the County to as closely as possible provide for the equivalent tax revenue lost by the Town for meals and lodging," Burke states. "The legislation developed and promoted by the County appears to be a possible remedy to a portion of this lost revenue. The Town appreciates Warren County recognizing the impact that losing this revenue has caused to the town."

As board Chairman Archie Fox noted, the town has not given the county a specific amount needed to recoup lost revenue.

"It looks like they want all of their lost revenue and this is a good step in that direction," County Attorney Blair Mitchell explained. "But they've never come out and said this is how many percentages."

The county would have to raise the meals and lodging tax rates by 4 percent and 2 percent, respectively, to achieve the amount needed to make the town whole, Mitchell and Stanley said. But Mitchell advised against seeking a meals tax rate increase by the full 4 percent.

"There is no county in Virginia that has a meals tax of more than 4 percent now anyway," Mitchell said. "We're asking to go 6 percent and to make them whole we'd have to be going to 8 percent and, no, that's just not realistic."

Fox said supervisors needed to make a decision and take action to move forward.

"We need to make a determination of what we're gonna do because we're not really getting recognition back from the town of what they want," Fox said.

The county needed to act this month and pass the proposed legislation to the representatives in time for them to introduce it in the next session of the General Assembly, according to Stanley.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

4 Comments | Leave a comment

    Why not? When will governments start taxing us on the taxes? Wait, it's already a practice.

    Is this because the town kicked Walmart out?? That would be ironic.

    I'm sure that our beloved politicians understand that the public is price-sensitive. That is, when prices go up, consumers go elsewhere.

    Taxes are also prices -- of the most unpopular sort. That's why they're piled onto our phone bills, our mortgages, and our bills for food and clothing. And don't forget our wages! Long ago the politicians made sure that employers would not be allowed to pay us in full, and let us pay the taxes on our own -- or even at the next pay window at the shop.

    In sum, taxes are added to things we **need.**

    Who **needs** to eat out?

    From the gist of this story (if it can be trusted - there are some ambiguities in the math), we learn that the town is trying to "recoup" money that it "lost" because of the town's bad decisions some years back.

    Translated, that means that we are now being asked to raise taxes because of the past actions of stupid politicians.

    Do you politicians think **we're** stupid? Have you noticed that thousands of people are moving out of California every day because of the taxes there? Not the folks on welfare (California's are among the most generous), but the folks who contribute to the productive economy.

    Why don't politicians ever own up to their mistakes, apologize, and tell the truth about their slipshod decisions and their profligacy?

    The only thing missing from their "justification" for these new taxes is -- "They're for the children." Every tax hike I've ever seen in this county -- there has never been a tax reduction, but there have been plenty of tax hikes -- has been "for the children."

    Children grow up and pay taxes. OK, Kids, ready to thank your politicians for your higher taxes?

    The pol's are oblivious. Just wait. Before this is over with, the palaver will be, "we're raising the meals and lodging taxes for the children."

    Restaurant and lodging owners will scratch their heads when price-sensitive consumers go elsewhere, and so will the clueless politicians.

    You know what they'll do when they discover that their tax hike didn't bring in the expected revenue?

    They'll raise taxes.

    For the children.

    "...raise the meals tax rate from 4 percent to 6 percent and the lodging tax from 2 percent to 4 percent..."

    These tax rates are incredibly LOW! Even after raising them, they are still LOW compared to other areas.

    Last time I was in California, the lodging tax was 10% and meals tax was about 8%.

    How many locals use the hotels? How many of those who stay at a hotel will choose to go in search of another room to save 2%?

    As for meals, DC has a 10% meals tax.
    West Virginia (49th in the country in household income) pays 6% already.

    I am not sure why people are whining about this. If you dont want to pay the meals tax, stay home and cook.

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