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Our View: The restaurant-tax impasse: a step in the right direction




In October, when Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins and Columbus Lowndes Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director Nancy Carpenter appeared before the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and The Columbus City Council at their respective regular meetings, it seemed simply a procedural matter that could be easily addressed. 


Higgins and Carpenter appeared before those officials to request a joint resolution needed to ask the Legislature for an extension of the city's 2-percent restaurant tax, which expires in July. 


It turned out to be anything but perfunctory. While the supervisors were content to keep the 2-percent revenue distribution as it had been for the previous years, the city council asked for substantial changes, including a provision that would direct 20 percent of the revenue to the city for its parks program, money to complete the Terry Brown Amphitheater and a restructuring of the CVB board to give the city a majority of the board members. 


Both the supervisors and council dug in their heels and all attempts at compromise, including a counter-proposals by Higgins and the CVB board, gained little traction. 


When it first became clear the supervisors and council had fundamental disagreements over the 2-percent revenue disbursements and the make-up of the CVB board, we urged both parties to meet to hammer out a compromise that would allow the request for the extension to proceed.  


Without such an agreement, the tax, as well as the survival of the CVB, were in jeopardy. 


Now, weeks later, it appears those discussions will happen, after all. 


During Tuesday's special-call meeting, the council voted unanimously to send a letter to the supervisors asking for a joint meeting to address the issue.  


Board of Supervisors President Harry Sanders said he is amenable to that meeting and the supervisors are expect to vote on whether to have such meeting during Monday's regular board meeting. 


We are pleased to see that both groups are willing to sit down and negotiate a resolution to this problem and urge both supervisors and council members alike to approach the yet-to-be-schedule meeting in a spirit of conciliation. Chances are, both parties will have to yield some ground. That is the nature of compromise. 


It will be important for each person in the meeting to remember that the citizens of both the city and county are relying on them to come to an agreeable solution.  


If that is, indeed, the attitude that prevails at this meeting, we are confident that a solution can be found and that our community will continue to reap the benefits the restaurant tax has provided well into the future.



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