After Business Lobbying, Montpelier Rejects Local Tax
03/07/12 7:34AM By John Dillon  Download MP3
(Host) Montpelier voters have rejected the idea of implementing a local tax on rooms, meals and sales.
As VPR's John Dillon reports, voters apparently followed the lead of the Capital City's business community, which campaigned heavily against the local option taxes.
(Dillon) The Montpelier City Council pushed the 1 percent tax on rooms, meals and sales as a way to raise money to repair streets, and to ease the residential tax burden in the Capital City.
After he cast his vote at City Hall, resident Felix Grassman said Montpelier needs the revenue. He pointed out that thousand of people visit Montpelier every day - from state employees to tourists.
(Grassman) "Until they come up with something better as far as revenue goes for keeping this city running. We're getting 10,000 people a day coming in here using all the services. I don't think the local option taxes are hurting Burlington or Williston or any of those other places."
(Dillon) As Grassman pointed out, 13 towns around Vermont have one or both of the local options taxes.
But in Montpelier, almost every storefront sprouted signs urging voters to reject the idea. Business owners campaigned heavily against the taxes. They said they'd lose customers to other communities if the sales tax was raised. Bars and restaurants also fought hard against the proposed 1 percent tax on meals and drinks.
The arguments from the business community were persuasive for resident Nancy Post.
(Post) "Even though we're citizens of Montpelier and we all share our tax here. We all support our businesses in Montpelier on a regular basis and we want to be sure that we have businesses to support, so don't want to discourage them."
(Dillon) Both taxes failed, but the margin was wider on the sales tax than on the rooms and meals tax.
For VPR News, I'm John Dillon in Montpelier.