Matt Chittum has a story today looking the Salem City Council’s consideration of raising the city meals tax by two percentage points to six cents per dollar. When you factor in the state sales tax, that would come to 11 cents per dollar.
The city council would use that money to pay about $1.3 million annually in debt service on construction of a new South Salem Elementary School (projected to cost somewhere between $15 million and $16 million).
You might recall that the Roanoke City Council took similar action in 2010, when it increased its meals tax two percentage points to seven cents per dollar (12 cents per dollar when you factor in the state sales tax) and devoted the ensuring revenues to the school system.
Roanoke’s meals tax increase is scheduled to sunset on June 30, 2012. Despite calls by the NAACP’s Roanoke branch to renew the tax increase, I’ve so far heard very little support for that from council members — particularly with a municipal election coming up in May, when the mayor and three council members will be up for re-election.
What do you think? Should the Salem City Council vote to increase its meals tax for construction of an elementary school? How about Roanoke? Should the council there allow the meals tax increase to sunset back to five cents per dollar, or should it make that increase permanent?