Newburyport residents are debating proposals to adopt a local meals tax and increase the city’s hotel/motel tax.
At issue is not just whether the city should approve the measures, but how it should spend the additional revenue.
The proposals, which call for levying a .75 percent local meals tax and raising the room occupancy tax from 4 percent to 6 percent, will be discussed at the City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee meeting next Monday at 7 p.m. in City Hall.
“To me, it’s another way we can diversify our tax base,’’ said Ward 4 Councilor Ed Cameron, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee and proposed the two tax increases. “Right now, we’re overly reliant on the property tax. . . . Local aid has been declining or flat the last seven years.’’
He said the money that the two taxes would generate for the city — about $300,000 from the meals tax and $28,000 more from the hotel/motel tax — could help meet pressing needs.
“We’ve laid off over 30 teacher positions the last five years. We almost laid off firefighters the last budget round. Our sidewalks and roads are in deplorable condition,’’ said Cameron, who expects his panel to vote on a recommendation on the proposals to the full council as early as Monday’s meeting.
...Cameron would like to see the city use the new revenue for infrastructure repairs, in particular sidewalk upgrades.