By Scott Tibbs, January 16, 2009
-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Food and Beverage Tax
Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2009 18:08:16 -0500
From: Scott Tibbs <email@example.com>
To: H61@IN.gov, S40@IN.gov
Representative Pierce and Senator Simpson,
As you probably know, many of Bloomington's bars are facing the possibility that a re-interpretation of fire code that will lower the number of people allowed in the establishments. The Alley Bar and the Bluebird, for example, are two places that could potentially see their occupancy limits significantly decrease.
It is in this context, and the hardships that many businesses are now facing due to the economic downturn that I strongly urge you to carefully consider the economic impact of allowing Monroe County to implement a "food and beverage tax" to fund an expansion of the convention center. Is now really a good time to be putting an extra burden on local business? The local branch of a national chain like Bob Evans or McDonald's may be able to weather the storm, but what about locally-owned business?
There are more fundamental philosophical issues to consider as well. While expanding the convention center may be an economic benefit, is it the role of government to tax some businesses (and their customers) to provide an economic boost to others? If expanding the convention center is such a good idea, why not encourage local businesses to voluntarily collaborate so the funds can be raised for this project without using force?
I also question the fairness of implementing a food and beverage tax to fund the convention center. Why should one specific industry be burdened with the cost of raising the funds for the convention center, instead of implementing a more broad-based taxation such an income tax or a county sales tax?
In this economic climate, the last thing we should be doing is raising taxes. Taking money out of the economy and giving it to the government will further hamper this community's ability to recover from the recession brought about by the meltdown in the financial markets. How will this impact the ability of families who are already facing tough economic times to enjoy a meal at a restaurant? How will this impact local business?
I believe this is a bad proposal at a worse time. I encourage you to vote against the enabling legislation for the food and beverage tax, instead trusting in the wisdom and experience of local business and local consumers to make the choices that they believe are most productive, instead of giving city and county government the authority to take even more of our money by force.