Cayce may use meal tax for streetscape

tflach@thestate.comJuly 27, 2013 

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    Cayce officials will listen to public comments on a proposed meal tax, officially called a hospitality tax, at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 1800 12th St.

— Cayce may use proceeds from a proposed meal tax to start long-delayed plans for a face-lift.

City officials are looking at installing new lights, crosswalks, landscaping and welcome signs on thoroughfares that are entry corridors into the Lexington County community of 12,500 residents.

Specific uses of tax revenue aren’t settled yet, but officials say it’s likely some of it will go for beautification along 12th Street, Airport Boulevard, Knox Abbott Boulevard and Charleston Highway.

“We’re running out of options to pay for these things,” city manager Rebecca Rhodes said. “We’re trying to find new revenue sources to make things happen.”

It’s the first hint of what projects could benefit from a tax that will be the subject of a community meeting Monday.

The final choice on use rests with the five City Council members, who are weighing whether to proceed with adoption of the tax this fall.

If approved, plans call for collection of the tax on dining out, snacks and takeout meals to start Jan. 1.

The tax of 2 pennies on the dollar is estimated to generate $644,000 a year initially, with its use limited to projects that attract visitors.

Half of the tax can be used to pay for upkeep of the local museum and the Riverwalk, with the other half earmarked for new projects.

No other community in Lexington County has the tax, although it is imposed in adjoining Columbia and Richland County.

Other municipal neighbors of Cayce aren’t eager to follow suit.

West Columbia Mayor Joe Owens and Springdale Mayor Pat Smith say there’s no interest in making the tax uniform in what’s known as the West Metro area.

“There are pluses and minuses on both sides of this (proposal),” said Gregg Pinner, executive director of the West Metro Chamber of Commerce.

But the presence of the tax in some adjoining communities means that Cayce restaurants “may not see a disadvantage” if it is put in place, he said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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