Monroe County Council Debates Food And Beverage Tax

Some county council members said using the taxes to upgrade the convention center was a top priority, but others questioned the benefits it would bring.

county council meeting

Photo: Sehvilla Mann/WFIU News

Monroe County Council members Geoff McKim (left) and Cheryl Munson discuss the food and beverage tax at a council meeting on Tuesday, March 26, 2013.

The Monroe County Council last night debated a a measure that would place a new one-percent food-and-beverage-tax on Monroe County restaurants. The money raised by the tax would pay for the expansion of the county convention center.

At their, Council members reflected on the economic benefits of expanding the South Walnut Street convention center – and how far those benefits are likely to reach beyond Bloomington. County councilman Ryan Langley says he’s “supportive” of using the money raised from the tax to build the addition. But he also says it is important for the council to specify what smaller Monroe County municipalities like Ellettsville and Stinesville will gain from the project.

“They’re all going to be participating in the tax,” Langley says. “Everybody that goes out to eat anywhere will be participating in the tax, so, I think we need to have some clear definition of what the benefits are going to be for those communities, where it’s a little more clear for downtown Bloomington.”

Langley says he thinks any funds remaining from the project should go to projects in other parts of the county. Council President Geoff McKim noted during the meeting that state law limits how the county can spend the money from the tax.

If there is extra funding, he says it is reasonable to consider other tourism-related projects in the county.

“But the focus, absolutely, and the top priority has to be expansion of the convention center,” he says.

The proposal is still in its early stages. Council members plan to consider the proposed tax at several more meetings over the next few months. McKim says they are not likely to vote on it until June, or possibly even later.

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