No appetite for meal tax in Cayce, some residents say

tflach@thestate.comJuly 29, 2013 

Some Cayce residents pressed city officials Monday to take a meal tax plan off the table.

“I keep seeing my taxes go up and the amount of my income lessen,” Jamie Campbell said at session allowing the public to sound off on the proposal.

Most of the 10 residents who spoke expressed no appetite for the tax, saying plans to use its revenue for beautification are either too ambitious or misguided.

“We aren’t looking for a super-Cayce,” Dan Sharp said. “Some of us moved here for a sleepy little town.”

The tax of 2 cents on the dollar is estimated to generate $644,000 a year initially.

Half of its proceeds could pay for upkeep of attractions like the local museum and Riverwalk, with the other half available for new projects.

A facelift will help stimulate local growth to the area, city manager Rebecca Rhodes told the crowd of two dozen.

“Community development leads to economic development,” she said.

Cayce also needs to do a better job of promoting its features, bringing in visitors to shop and dine there, she added.

“All (road) signs in Cayce tell you where to get somewhere else,” she said. “There’s stuff to do here.”

The fate of the tax is up to City Council members, some of whom are looking at adoption this fall.

“I didn’t see anything that really discouraged me,” Councilwoman Tara Almond said after listening to concerns raised.

If approved, the tax on dining out, snacks and takeout meals would start Jan. 1.

Some residents said city leaders seem to be rushing the proposal since interest in it surfaced in March.

“Go slow,” Ray Mixon said. “Nobody likes taxes.”

A new revenue source is necessary to pay for lights, crosswalks, landscaping and welcome signs on major roads in the community of 12,500 residents, Rhodes said.

“This is something we can do to make the city better,” she said.

No other Lexington County municipality has the tax. Lexington repealed it in 2005 after 18 months.

Cayce can’t wait on its neighbors to decide on adopting it simultaneously, Rhodes said.

“Somebody has to go first,” she said.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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