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Restaurant tax: Joint restaurant tax resolution now unanimous

 

Leroy Brooks

Leroy Brooks

 

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

 

Gary Chism

Gary Chism

 

 

Slim Smith

 

 

The Lowndes County Board of Supervisors have made it unanimous. 

 

During Tuesday's board meeting, District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks moved to allow himself and District 4 Supervisor Jeff Smith to join the other three board members in support of a joint resolution with the city of Columbus asking the Legislature to extend the county's 2-percent restaurant sales tax. 

 

The county, city and the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau had been wrestling with the terms of the extension since first approached with the request for a joint resolution in October. 

 

The county passed a resolution that was not in agreement with the city's version, but both Brooks and Smith voted no, hoping the county and city could resolve their differences in order to send a resolution passed by both entities. 

 

After the city worked out a separate inter-local agreement to secure funds for the city -- something the county had objected to having in the resolution -- the city unanimously passed a resolution mirroring the county's. 

 

Without state legislative approval, the tax - which funds local tourism and economic development efforts - will expire in June. Legislators have indicated a joint resolution is required for approval, and a unanimous joint resolution places tax renewal in an even stronger position. 

 

Now that both the supervisors and councilmen have agreed unanimously on the language of the extension, the resolution heads to the Legislature's Private and Local committees in both houses to be crafted into a bill. 

 

"Actually, the bill is already drafted in anticipation of the supervisors' action," said Rep. Gary Chism (R-Columbus), a member of the House Local and Private Committee. "What will happen now is that bill will go to committees in both houses, then on to Ways and Means, and then to the floor for a vote. It may come out of the House or the Senate, but will be the same exact bill with the same wording, so it's really more a procedural thing." 

 

The joint resolution calls for $250,000 of the revenue to be directed to the Golden Triangle Development LINK, requires all businesses who sell prepared food to collect the tax and makes all CVB board at-large. 

 

The city's inter-local agreement with the CVB would direct $300,000 annually for improvements to the baseball fields and Propst Park, $50,000 annually for completion of the Terry Brown Amphitheater and $50,000 for four festivals held annually in the city. 

 

In Fiscal Year 2017, the tax raised almost $2 million.

 

Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]

 

 

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