Two years ago this month, the city’s leaders gazed into a crystal ball and decided it was advisable for Roanoke to raise its meals tax from 5 cents to 7 cents per dollar.
They also devoted the new revenue to public schools. At the same time, they deemed that the 2-cent surtax would expire this upcoming June 30.
Critics reacted with shrill and dire predictions: Patrons would shift their food-and-beverage spending to outside the city, rather than pay the extra 2 cents per dollar, some cried.
Restaurateurs would move their operations to Roanoke County or Salem to escape the onerous new levy, others said.
A few slammed the tax hike as a “40 percent increase,” which was literally true, but highly deceptive (because of a statistical quirk known as the tyranny of small numbers). Out of patrons’ pockets, it was 2 percent more.
The silliest used anti-tax dogma to forecast an overall decline in meals tax revenues because of the increase.
None of that happened. What did?
To see the surprising results, READ THE REST OF THIS COLUMN HERE.