The Meals Tax shouldn’t be a political issue. I’m against it wherever I have to pay for it mainly because it’s discriminatory and not shared proportionately. “Don’t eat out and you won’t get taxed,” is a null argument. “Soak the rich ’cause they can pay,” is somewhat reprehensible. “If you stop and eat in our county, your meal will be taxed,” is unpalatable and goes to my gut.
“Visitors/tourists pay no local county tax, yet they get services such as 911 response.” That argument has some validity. However, if they make purchases, they pay sales tax of which a portion is returned to the locality.
Another “visitor” fee is the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT – overnight room tax). This is discriminatory but is somewhat palatable because 20 percent (up to 40 percent if voted) does go to support the county which supports 911 services which visitors could need. Note: in addition to the 5 percent TOT, the room is also taxed at the present 5.2 percent sales tax (a portion returned to the county). The remainder (up to 80 percent) of the TOT is required BY LAW to foster tourism and is spent at the discretion of the local Tourism Advisory Committee (TAC), not the supervisors.
Tourism grows the county. To paraphrase Julius Caesar: “I came, I liked what I saw and whom I met, I bought land and built, and now I pay local taxes.” Treat our visitors fairly because they will take notice of how we try to soak them.
Meadows of Dan