There are many things on the ballot in Shenandoah County this November. However the most controversial has become the “meals tax” referendum placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors.
The referendum reads as follows: “Should a meals tax of up to 4% on food and beverages sold by a restaurant be levied in Shenandoah County in order to fund education and public safety capital projects? If this food and beverage tax is adopted and a maximum tax rate of 4% is imposed, then the total tax imposed on all prepared food and beverage shall be 9.3%”. The Circuit Court Judge required the second sentence to be added.
Under normal circumstances this would be a no brainer. Shenandoah County residents are loathed to support new taxes, and several years ago, County voters tossed out two incumbent supervisors who were seen as too friendly to tax increases.
The Meals Tax supporters have been rather cunning in their support of the Meals Tax. They have stated that the proceeds of the Meals Tax will only be used for education spending and to fund the new Sheriff’s Communications Department and Office. And the usual internet supporters of tax and spend liberalism such as PASS President (Parental Alliance for Strong Schools) Dan Walsh who says that the only way to have real economic growth is to increase taxes.
For the record, no sane person can debate that the Sheriff’s Department needs a new office and some type of communications center.
The Meals Tax must be defeated, and defeated soundly. The reasons are as follows:
- Whether the pro tax movement wants to hear it or not, they cannot guarantee that the Board of Supervisors will spend the money towards education spending or spending on a new Sheriff’s Office. This is codified into Virginia law. And the funds are so intermingled to ensure that no one can tell you what tax dollars are going where. Note there is no talk about an “education spending lockbox or separate fund where these funds will go. The local fire departments and other 1st responders have been promised that if the Meals Tax is passed, then all of their funding needs will disappear. This is 100% inaccurate and quite frankly, a few Meals Tax supporters should be ashamed of themselves for saying these words.
- The Board of Supervisors has estimated that the Meals Tax may generate income of up to $1.2 million. The pro tax people have talked about how that money can be spent on education. However that is quite misleading. No one really knows how much money the Meals Tax will generate. It could be 1 million dollars it could generate $200,000. (In Page County, where the economy is similar to Shenandoah, the Meals Tax generated approximately $280,000 in revenue the previous fiscal year – so if you account for a larger population in Shenandoah County, the Meals Tax may generate approximately $450,000 in annual revenue). Note that Department heads and other elected officials such as Clerk of the Court Sarona Irvin have come out in support of the Meals Tax. The Department heads support the Meals Tax because they know will be able to get the new employees they have been begging for. So the Meals Tax will basically be spent on growing a government that will spend your money.
- School population in Shenandoah County has decreased over the last decade. However school spending keeps increasing. Maybe it is time to quit the spending increases and require that government has some fiscal responsibility the way that each of us has to be fiscally responsible. Note that the most increases in school spending have been geared towards the school bureaucracy, not towards the teachers or students.
- The supporters of the Meals tax have publicly said that mostly it will be 2 or 3 large corporations which have to shoulder the cost of the Meals tax. This is dishonest at best. The fact is that 40+ separate businesses will be required to pay more in accounting fees to collect the Meals tax. Who will pay for their accounting costs? This is highly unfair to small businesses.
The three greatest documents ever written have been in this order: The Holy Bible, the US Constitution, and the Virginia Republican Creed. The Virginia Republican Creed says in part the following: “That fiscal responsibility and budgetary restraints must be exercised at all levels of government” . Clearly this is not happening with the pro tax and spend supporters in Shenandoah County. It is time for We the People to send a message to the political class – SAY NO TO THE MEALS TAX ON NOVEMBER 5th.