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COUNTY COMMISSION PASSES RESTAURANT PRIVILEGE TAX RESOLUTION

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The Cumberland County Commission tonight approved a resolution for state lawmakers to give the county permission to enact a 1 percent restaurant privilege tax. The matter passed with all commissioners voting yes except Woody Geisler, who cast the sole no vote. Commissioner Roy Turner was absent from last night’s meeting. The resolution needed a two-thirds vote to pass the commission.

If approved by the state, the additional money would assist in the construction and operations of the planned Cumberland County Expo Center. The request would not be heard in Nashville until January 2019. If passed there, the county commission would have to pass the restaurant privilege tax again that would go into effect at the earliest July 2019.

The resolution was fine tuned to clearly state restaurant privilege tax and not food and beverage. According to a recent chamber of commerce poll of their members, 81 percent were in support of building the expo center in Crossville next to the community complex.

The vast majority of the proposed tax would go towards the construction and maintaining the expo center with the small remainder going towards tourism in Cumberland County.

After the meeting, Mayor-Elect Allen Foster issued the following statements regarding the resolution:

This is not a tax on groceries but rather on prepared food at restaurants. The resolution requested the General Assembly to establish a Private Act or a General Law to allow Cumberland County to enact a one percent restaurant food and beverage tax. This money could be used to fund a Multi-Purpose Facility, popularly referred to as an Expo Center, and other tourism and business related activities.

The next step in the process, after passage of the night’s resolution, would be for the General Assembly to actually establish a Private Act or General Law that would allow Cumberland County to enact the tax. Finally, before the tax could be enacted, the Cumberland County Commission would have to address the issue again and approve the Private Act or General Law by a 2/3 majority.
Here are a few of the questions I have been asked about this resolution:

  1. Is this a tax on groceries? No, it is a restaurant food and beverage tax.
  2. Does passing this resolution enact a restaurant tax in Cumberland County? No, this only allows the state to determine if Cumberland County would be allowed to consider passing a restaurant food and beverage tax.
  3. Does passing this resolution pass the building of a Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center? No.
  4. If this resolution is passed, will the next County Commission that will be seated in September be able to decide if the restaurant tax is passed? Yes, the next County Commission would have to vote by a 2/3 margin to approve the tax.

There has been a lot of talk about the possibility of a Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center for the last several months. You may have read about the discussion in the Crossville Chronicle or on the internet, or heard about it on the radio. Many people still have questions that need to be answered, including the new members of the County Commission that start on September 1, 2018. Any and all projects like this need full vetting.

My intention is to ensure that everyone again has an opportunity to have their questions answered in public. To do this, as Mayor, I intend to ask the new Building and Grounds Committee to fully vet the Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center project and ask questions about construction costs, ongoing operational costs, revenue projections, parking, etc. This way, everyone will have ample opportunity to discuss the project with no rush to judgement or predetermined outcome. The Multi-Purpose Facility/Expo Center is an idea that may have merit, but a thorough public vetting will help determine if that is the case.”

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