As you may be aware, the Shenandoah County Chamber Board of Directors and Economic Development Council have been discussing a Meals Tax Referendum with the Board of Supervisors (the “Board”) for the past several months. On a 5-1 vote, the Board approved a Resolution on August 1, 2019, requesting that a Referendum be held regarding the enactment of a meals tax. As such, County residents will be given the opportunity to vote on the issue November 5, 2019. The Board decided to dedicate, or earmark, the new revenue source “to fund public safety and education capital projects”.
We have pledged our assistance in educating the public regarding the Meals Tax Referendum. As expected, the news of a County meals tax has created some level of emotion and a fair amount of misinformation. We are committed to ensuring residents understand the impact of a vote for, or against, the meals tax.
Please see the “Vote Yes” marketing pamphlet below. We believe the bullets provide a concise and compelling position to support the meals tax.
The concept of a meals tax is not new. In fact, Shenandoah County residents currently pay a meals tax on every prepared meal within the town limits of each town in Shenandoah County and in every county along I-81 from the West Virginia state line to Wythe County. Shenandoah County has simply not approved one in the past, forgoing an opportunity to collect tax from non-Shenandoah County residents, thereby placing the full tax burden on County residents. At this point, we do not know the positive impact on County revenues by implementing a meals tax. However, we are aware of the impact of meals tax revenues (as budgeted for FY2020) on local jurisdictions.
Many will debate the use of funds, the size of government and other issues; however, we believe the topic can be simplified with two questions. When Shenandoah County needs additional revenue sources to fund operations (whatever may be needed-public safety, schools or economic development, for example), do the residents want to pay 100% of the increase via real estate and personal property taxes? Or, would residents prefer it be measurably subsidized by non-County residents in the form of a County Meals Tax?
We believe a “yes” vote on the Meals Tax Referendum diversifies the County’s tax base and provides tax relief to County taxpayers.
Dennis A. Dysart
Chairman, Shenandoah County Chamber Board of Directors
Meals Taxes Collected By Surrounding Localities in 2017:
Town of Edinburg, with a 5% meals tax, collected over $57,000
Town of New Market, with a 5% meals tax, collected over $387,000
Town of Strasburg, with a 6% meals tax, collected over $730,000
Town of Toms Brook, with a 5% meals tax, collected over $2,500
Town of Woodstock, with a 6% meals tax, collected over $1.2M
Town of Mt. Jackson, with a 5.5% meals tax, collected over $357,000
Frederick County, with a 4% meals tax, collected over $4.9M
Page County, with a 4% meals tax, collected over $295,000
Warren County, with a 4% meals tax, collected over $940,000
Rockingham County, with a 4% meals tax, collected over $1.2M