Tryon researching food and beverage tax

Published 5:01 pm Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Town of Tryon is currently researching the possibility of adding a one-percent tax on sales of prepared food and beverages.
Tryon Town Council met Aug. 21 and agreed for Bill Crowell of the Tryon Tourism Development Authority (TTDA) to research what it would take for the town to implement the tax.
Crowell said the tax could benefit the town by providing revenue for beautification projects such as the City of Landrum has done with a similar tax.
Commissioner Wim Woody said he is against taxes in general.
“We have enough trouble getting people into town,” Woody said. “I just don’t like that idea in our small town.”
Woody suggested if the town needs money for beautification, council find the money in the budget and not tax only restaurants.
Commissioner George Baker said he agrees with Woody.
But commissioner Doug Arbogast said he is in favor of adding a one-percent food and beverage tax. Commissioner Roy Miller didn’t express an opinion but said the town could agree to give Crowell the directive to do the research and bring information back to council’s next meeting.
The N.C. state legislature would have to give Tryon the authority to implement the tax.
Landrum began charging a two-percent prepared food and beverage tax approximately four years ago after South Carolina gave authority for counties and municipalities to implement the tax. Landrum at the time either had to enact the tax or Spartanburg County would have been able to receive the taxes from Landrum’s food and beverage establishments.
Landrum receives between $120,000 and $150,000 per year from what the city refers to as its hospitality tax.
The revenue is restricted to uses designed to bring in tourists and making the city more attractive.
Landrum has used its hospitality tax for a variety of improvements and efforts to draw tourists, including advertisements in newspapers and magazines from Asheville to Florida, beautification of roads ranging from signage to grass cutting and litter pick-up, installation of flags and banners in the downtown area and installation of stamped crosswalks downtown. Most recently, the city plans to  finance depot renovations with hospitality funding.
“You can see what (the tax) has done for Landrum,” said Crowell.
The tax would be for prepared food and beverages only and would apply to restaurants, bars, coffee shops, cafes and anywhere else food and beverage is prepared and sold in town.

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