Greenwood approves food & beverage tax increase; issue moves to state

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Before the ball drops ringing in 2014, cities around Indianapolis must decide if they'd like to make up lost revenues by increasing their food and beverage tax by one percent.

That means the average $40 check would increase by 40 cents. While it may seem like small change, it is an issue that's generating a big buzz in communities like Greenwood.

Monday night, the Greenwood Common Council voted on whether they wanted to bump up the tax. Of the nine members, seven voted in favor, one voted against, and another voted "present," which was counted as a non-vote.

Reaction to the proposed tax, which would generate an estimated $700,000, is mixed.

"That's kind of pushing the envelope just a little bit, it really is. We love being able to go out to eat, but you really have to stop and think about another percentage point on that, it's a little bit much," said Donna Landers who dined with her husband at the Oaken Barrel in Greenwood Monday.

Despite the concern, Landers isn't upset about the vote.

"We want the county to grow, we want that to happen too, so mixed emotions about it really," she said.

When it comes to business owners, Kwang Casey of the Oaken Barrel isn't looking forward to a proposed spike.

"It kind of puts a bad taste in people's mouths," he said.

But like others, he says he can understand the need.

"If it's for the community and for the development of the community, I'm all for it," Casey said.

"Obviously nobody likes higher taxes, but the real issue is how they use the money," Oaken Barrel customer Tom Mason said.

Eyewitness News took that question to the top. It turns out there are no specifics, other than the parks and public safety departments would benefit.

"This just came to us two weeks ago, so we haven't hammered out those details yet. That's something we obviously have time to do," Councilor David Hopper said in an interview after Monday's vote.

The council spent nearly an hour discussing the issue before placing the vote. Representatives from the Parks Department cited funding shortfalls to illustrate the benefit the one-percent increase would bring the program, as did leaders of the police and fire departments.

Since the issue did not receive a 9-0 vote, the spike doesn't automatically pass. It must go on to the General Assembly for a vote to determine what will ultimately happen in Greenwood.

A similar one-percent increase has been discussed in Fishers, but was not presented during their council's meeting Monday night. Since the tax needs to be approved by the end of the year, it is unlikely Fishers will do so.