Greenville City Administrator Ben Van Hooser presents as Elkton Mayor Jackie Weathers and council look on
Elkton City Council tabled an ordinance Thursday afternoon that would have created a restaurant tax and hotel tax to fund a new tourism commission.
Greenville City Administrator Ben Van Hooser and Greenville Tourism Commission Chair Jamie Wells presented to a room packed with restaurant owners, managers and citizens for about an hour on how the restaurant tax has boosted their efforts to attract visitors. Greenville has seen a 78% increase in yearly revenues from the tax since it was instituted in 2007 and brought in $357,000 last year.
The commission uses the money to advertise its events and attractions, to host events such as downtown concerts and they help local businesses fund beautification efforts and their online presence.
Many in the crowd voiced concerns that the proposed three-percent tax on prepared food would hurt sales and reduce tips to their servers. Wells said their successful efforts to increase tourism have actually been a boost to small restaurants in Greenville.
Guthrie received approximately $50,000 through its restaurant tax last year, according to numbers provided, and a survey of the Pennyrile region shows ten cities in the nine-county region with similar taxes—including Oak Grove.
Mayor Jackie Weathers pointed out that the proposed tourism commission would be made up of seven members who represent restaurants, businesses and private citizens. Ultimately the council voted 3-2 to table the ordinances, with Frank McReynolds and David Haley casting “no” votes because they were ready to vote against the measures. David Powell, Doug Gibson and Michael Case voted in favor of tabling the ordinances.
McReynolds says most restaurant owners he’s spoken to oppose the tax.
The ordinances could be brought back up for discussion at a future meeting.