Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Meals Tax

The City Council last night voted in favor of establishing a local meals excise tax. An amount equal to 50% of that new revenue will be targeted to repair of existing City-owned sidewalks.

The Daily News story is here http://www.newburyportnews.com/local/x1364888787/Council-OKs-local-meals-tax-option

In September 2010, I had sent a survey via email to 107 Ward 4 constituents.

These are constituents with whom I've had contact in my 3 years on the Council. They are not necessarily friends or supporters; in fact, many of them have had disagreements with me; they are of all political persuasions and ages ; most have been in Newburyport for at least 20 years.

I received 56 responses to the survey.

I don't claim to be a statistician. 56 opinions out of approximately 1900 registered Ward 4 voters might not seem like much. But I compare this to pollsters, such as Suffolk University which accurately predicted both the Scott Brown-Martha Coakley race and the Charlie Baker-Deval Patrick race with a survey sample of 500 out of 4.1 million registered voters. So I think my survey has some validity.

Based on these responses and many conversations with Ward 4 and other residents, I do believe there is broad support for the Local Meals Excise Tax.

On the floor of the Council last night during discussion, both Councillors Heartquist and Herzog stated that constituents they had asked were in favor of adopting the meals tax by a similar margin.

In the survey, I asked the following question about the Meals Tax proposal:

The City Council is considering whether Newburyport should adopt a 0.75% local meals tax to generate local revenue. This tax would be in addition to the 6.25% meals tax which goes to the State. Over 110 Massachusetts cities and towns have adopted the local meals tax including Boston. New Hampshire has a 9% meals tax. Proponents note that 75 cents would be added to a $100 restaurant bill and a local meals tax would generate over $300,000 for Newburyport with much of the revenue coming from tourists. Opponents say such a tax would have a negative impact on local restaurants and place an unfair additional burden on residents.

Do you favor, oppose, or are you undecided on whether Newburyport should adopt this tax?

Total Respondents 56

Favor-- 40 Respondents or 71.4%

Oppose-- 13 Respondents or 23.2%

Undecided-- 3 Respondents or 5.4%

Comments in Favor (16)

1. Does anyone really believe that adding 75 cents to a $100 restaurant bill will make a difference to a customer?

2. Good revenue source and will not affect restaurants.

3. I don't understand how it would unfair additional burden on residents.

4. I favor this *only* if the revenue is tied to something tangible, like improvements to sidewalks. I oppose this if it becomes simply an unfocused revenue grab.

5. If you can afford a $100 meal, you can afford 75 cents.

6. I've already given you my comments on this: Ridiculous to believe that an additional 75cents per $100 will cause someone to go elsewhere for a meal.

7. My decisions about going out depend on cost of whole meal, noy this piddling amount.

8. Perhaps slate this for a specific cause (s)

9. small potatoes, except to the business community which seems to run this city by influence

10. Soak the tourist bastards!

11. The amt. will barely be noticed on a bill - plus most residents don't eat at local restaurants!

12. The meals tax is much higher in neighboring states. The poorer folks won't likely be dining in restaurants with a $100. tab.

13. the money should go to the above mentioned important municipal services depts

14. This tax is not a burden on those who can dine out, buy liquor, and frequent hotels, B&B's, etc.

15. This would not stop my family from going out to the local restaurants.

16. Use some of the income for sidewalks as suggested

Comments Against (5)

1. Enough taxes, thats not the only answer. Or it is when you have no other idea how to generate money. Seems like the poor leaders always want to raise taxes, its their only answer.

2. Having to pay a local meal tax and paid parking it going to keep some people from going down town. People had express their feeling about on the DN blog.

3. Reighn in the gov't spending

4. Stop gouging the residents and visitors!

5. That would only drive people further away from Newburyport. It would go against the culture of the town a social, hospitable, fun place to spend time.

This was a contentious issue. I thank the people who spoke at Public Comment, attended a meeting, emailed their Councillors, or signed the petition against the meals tax.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Mr. Cameron, you will be inappropriately ridiculed for this proposal and your final support and vote for this tax increase. Most of us city residents haven't had to sit and make hard decisions related to our budget as you have. So, I believe you are a responsible official with a clear vision for our future. I appreciate your concious decision making. Hang in there!

Thank you for your service,