Meals tax referendum on ballot

Published 10:49 am Thursday, October 31, 2019

When Charlotte County voters go to the polls next week, they will have the opportunity to vote on a county wide Meals Tax Referendum that if passed the revenue would be used to support government services to include schools and capital projects.

If the meals tax is adopted, and the maximum tax rate of 4% is imposed, then the total tax set on all prepared food and beverage in the county will be 9.3%.

Currently, only towns in Charlotte County have a meals tax. However, this referendum would be for the county as a whole. “This is a ‘user’ tax and another source of revenue for the county and a ‘flow-through’ tax,” explained County Administrator Daniel Witt. “Meaning, if you choose not to eat out, you don’t pay the tax.”

According to Witt, flow-through means the business collects the tax for the county and is compensated for doing so. “As discussed by the board, this revenue source will include folks from outside our county and is already a source of revenues for the towns within the county,” said Witt.

According to the petition filed at the Charlotte County Circuit Court, the meals tax would not only apply to restaurants but to any convenience store that prepares food to be sold.

It was at the May meeting of the Board of Supervisors that members adopted the resolution instructing county attorney, Russell Slayton to draft the court order to have the referendum placed on the November ballot.

The resolution to seek the court order to place the referendum on the ballot carried with all supervisors voting yes. The motion was made by Wylliesburg/Red Oak Supervisor Kay Pierantoni and seconded by Aspen/Phenix Supervisor Nancy Carwile.

Pierantoni pointed out during the May meeting that she had spoken to one restaurant owner in her district and that they were in favor of the tax because they understood that tax revenue was needed for the county.

During their discussion on the Meals Tax, Pierantoni also said that she felt that the citizens needed to understand that the tax collected in the towns would still go to those towns but that the tax collected from restaurants and convenience stores that are not in town limits would be for the county.