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Will You Vote for a Local Meals or Hotel Tax?

Two taxes go up for a vote on this year's town meeting warrant.

This year at Town Meeting, Northborough will have the opportunity to decide if it wants to add a local meals or hotel tax. Both will be warrant articles at Town Meeting on Monday, April 22.

Though selectmen disagreed on their support of both taxes, all approved of putting the decision to the voters.

Insituting a meals tax would raise the tax on your restaurant bill .75; it is already 6.5 percent in Massachusetts. Hotel room taxes would increase from 4 to 6 percent.

"If you were to go out to eat, and your bill was $5, that would be 4 cents," explained Town Administrator John Coderre. "For a $100 bill, that would be 75 cents."

Massachusetts gave towns the opportunity to add meals and hotel taxes in 2008 as a way to raise needed revenue in a shriveling economy. While most communities adopted the hotel tax, the meals tax gained in popularity, with 161 communities that now have it, including Westborough and Shrewsbury.

Northborough, until now, hasn't considered either.

Coderre explained that while Northborough has experienced a period of economic growth and is in good financial shape, he is in support of the taxes as a "proactive move" and as a means to continue to keep the average family tax increases low.

If both taxes are approved, it would raise approximately $280,000 additional revenue for Northborough, with $250,000 of that from a meals tax, said Coderre.

Selectman Dawn Rand had concerns over the meals tax, saying, "I think it's a good idea to put it before town meeting, but there are a lot of stores that are independently owned that will be impacted. It doesn't look like a lot, and the impact is minimal, but I look cautiously at that one. I do think there is the potential for it to hurt Northborough businesses by passing that."

Coderre added that Rand's sentiment was "precisely why we didn't do it, but there has been no evidence that it had a negative impact anywhere. The concept here is that it'll really be negligible. There is no evidence that it impacts anyone's behavior."

The board unanimously supported adopting the hotel tax, arguing that town services are needed at both of Northborough's hotels: Motel 6, and the EconoLodge, where Massachusetts places homeless families.

Selectman Jeff Amberson, while he supports the taxes, had reservations that hinge on trust issues with state goverment.

"I can't help but think that with the state collecting this tax, and then returning it to the towns .... I just hope there is a methodology," he said. "I hope they keep giving it back to the towns and it's not like some of those mandates, like special education, where they were supposed to pay 75 percent, and now it's down to 62. I would be upset if down the road the state started taking the money."

Will you vote in favor or against the meals or hotel taxes? Why so? Share your comments in the comments section, which is the perfect place for comments.

Postman March 14, 2013 at 12:07 PM
Shriveling economy, so let's raise taxes on the people who rely on it. Brilliant. ....oh...it's only a little though... Thanks but no thanks.
Kimberly West March 14, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Proactive taxation? You have got to be kidding!! Keep the government out of your pocket. Tell them no way no matter how "small" the # is!!!!
Robin Hamilton March 14, 2013 at 03:24 PM
No way. If the town is in good shape, as stated, then there is no need to be proactive. It's an absurd notion.
Bob Weir March 14, 2013 at 03:51 PM
NO! NO! NO! No more taxes at all! "oh, it's only 10 cents here, 15 cents there..." and before you know it it's REAL money. First we had 5% sales tax, then it was TEMPORARILY raised to 5.85%, then they came clean and said they were screwing us anyway so they raised it to 6.5% and now we want to add to it??!! People, taxes are bad and we need to reduce them not add to them.
James A. Vander Poel March 14, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Let's not, and put signs on the roads entering town "No meals tax here". Might increase business at local establishments. We don't need to follow the herd on this one, not yet.
ET March 16, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Although not a huge amount of money, my fear would be that once it is passed, the tax will just increase and increase in future years. Local restaurants are having a hard enough time staying alive in this economy and have a lot of competition; let's not give people another reason not to come to Northborough restaurants.
Michael Horgan March 16, 2013 at 12:36 PM
The town wants to but brand new trucks and spend all the money they get. Take a look at the equipment the town own. The trucks have chrome push bars, and fancy unneeded accessories. Why? Because the towns likes to spend money and the people at town meeting don't ask question about what they are spending.
Bob Reagan March 26, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Always the ways cities and towns solve their budget issues, just raise taxes....... let see some comprehensive savings programs with taxpayers in mind. Plus the fact that they want to use this tax to take care of pension liabilities. At what point are taxpayers responsible for peoples retirements ? Put them all on 401Ks and let it be an equal responsibility to employee . Taxpayers cover far to much of the expense of pension and health care and thats why there is a shortfall. Stop using taxes as a way to solve all your fiscal problems. Privatize and regionalize town services and then maybe taxpapyers would be a little more open to expenses.
Bob Weir March 27, 2013 at 01:05 PM
Nobody is listening.

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