Charlottesville is missing money. The shortfall is the result of restaurants failing to turn over their meals tax revenue. Now the city is taking action.
Every time you buy food in Charlottesville four percent of your bill goes back to the city. It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but Charlottesville has come to depend on money from its 250 restaurants.
Several restaurants in Charlottesville are failing to hand in the monthly meals tax revenue they collect. Last week, the commissioner of the revenue put out summons for six violators.
"Life is full of choices and this is money that the tax payers are remitting to someone in trust and that money then is suppose to be remitted on time," explained Charlottesville Commissioner of Revenue Lee Richards.
The Outback Lodge is one of the offenders. The city hasn't received receipts from Outback Lodge for several months.
"We have a slowing economy and people are getting squeezed and having to make choices they normally wouldn't have to make," said Richards.
But the city needs the money, too. The meals tax accounts for five percent of their general fund. This past June, the taxes brought in $536,000. The city is expecting to collect $7 million this year.
City police and fire are two groups who benefit from the tax. They provide services people don't want to see suffer no matter how difficult times may be. Richards shared, "I've been through a few economic downturns here and you can't let these things just run away with you."
When the restaurants do get around to turning in the cash, extra costs are attached. Charlottesville adds a five percent penalty and restaurants will pay 10 percent in interest.