Local restaurant owners react to potential meals tax

Jacksonville, Ore. — Grabbing a bite to eat in Jacksonville might be getting more expensive. Petitioners are working to put an ordinance on the November ballot that would charge a 5% meal tax.

All-year-long, Jacksonville is a favorite eating spot for many locals and visitors. While this ordinance is in its very early stages, it’s raising the question alarming businesses.

Would you still eat here if it meant paying five percent more for your meal?

“I don’t personally like it. I don’t think it’s fair for one section of business to have to pick up the burden for something that benefits the whole community,” said Jeannie Inman, owner of Mustard Seed Cafe.

A group is working to put an ordinance on November’s ballot to put a 5% tax on food and beverage purchases.

“So another 10% decrease, and then I’ve got to pay 5% more when I’m trying to profit 10% – if I’m lucky,” said Paul Becking, owner of C Street Bistro.

The money collected would fund Jacksonville’s police department. It is currently funded through the city’s general fund – but with increasing costs, city leaders have said it’s not enough.

Earlier this month, the city voted to implement a 20-dollar surcharge on resident’s utilities bills for the next 5 years. This petition is looking at generating funding from a different source. While business owners said they support public safety, they don’t want to carry the burden on their own.

“The math doesn’t work out. These guys, I don’t think they have the slightest idea how it will affect the people that own these businesses and work in them as well,” Becking said.

Restaurant owners fear the added cost may deter customers.

“In Jacksonville, we’re five minutes from an alternative,” Inman said.

“They’re not going to want to come. They’re going to want to go somewhere else – because of the stupid taxes,” Becking said.

Again, this ordinance still has several steps in the process before ending up on a ballot. Stay with NBC5 News for updates on the petition’s process.

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