Council Considers Increase on Meals Tax to Help C'ville Schools - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Council Considers Increase on Meals Tax to Help C'ville Schools

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If you eat out in Charlottesville you may soon have to fork over a little more for your tab. A meals tax hike is on City Council's menu to raise money for Charlottesville schools.

The current meals tax is 4 percent. City Council is talking about raising that to 5 or 6 percent. Charlottesville's Vice Mayor Kristin Szakos says raising meals taxes in the city would be the best option to help the schools budget rather than raising property taxes.

Charlottesville City Council is reviewing Roanoke's meals tax model. It raised the tax 2 cents on the dollar to help support education.

"We want to try to figure out a way that we can support education even though the state has stopped supporting education adequately," said Szakos.

She says if councilors raise the city's meals tax - they want to create a marketing campaign to help boost business at restaurants. One idea would be placing stickers on restaurant doors letting customers know a portion of their bill will support city schools.

But one Charlottesville diner says he'd rather not be reminded. "The less you remind people that you've raised taxes the better. So I wouldn't advertise it, especially after it's a done deal. You're not going to make people feel good about eating out because they can pay more," said Jim Johnson, a Charlottesville resident.

Jaclynn Dunkle, the owner of Fellini's Restaurant just off the downtown mall believes a tax hike of any kind would hurt business.

"Is it going to make them think twice about going out? One percent, 2 percent doesn't seem like much but you know, I mean, we depend on people coming out to dinner and every little bit makes a difference," she said.

The idea is in the early stages and no decisions have been made. Szakos says when Roanoke increased the tax, many restaurant owners actually gained business because of the marketing campaign.

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