Cayce loses appetite for meal tax

tflach@thestate.comAugust 21, 2013 

cayce municipal building

A meal tax is off the menu in Cayce.

City Council members on Wednesday dropped the proposal after protests it would be too much on top of recent increases in property taxes and utility bills.

“The timing is just not right for us to do this,” Councilman Tim James said.

City manager Rebecca Rhodes agreed that seeking the tax now is premature.

“We don’t want to overdo it,” she said. “We don’t want to push a tax on our citizens if they are not ready for it.”

Only Councilwoman Tara Almond expressed disappointment, saying the tax would not be onerous while providing a revenue for civic improvements.

The decision put Lexington County officials at ease.

Some county leaders worried that adoption of the tax could jeopardize support for a separate push for a countywide capital improvements sales tax of a penny on the dollar slated for a November 2014 referendum.

Cayce may benefit more from projects in that package “instead of every little subset doing it on its own,” county Councilman Todd Cullum of Cayce said.

City leaders looked at the meal tax as a way to pay for beautification and operation of the local museum and Riverwalk on the Congaree River.

A meal tax of 2 cents on the dollar it was estimated would bring in $644,000 a year initially.

It would have been collected on dining out, takeout food and snacks, but not groceries.

No other community in Lexington County has the tax, although some Irmo officials are looking at it. The tax is collected in neighboring Columbia and Richland County.

Cayce leaders may look anew at the meal tax if voters reject the countywide sales tax.

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Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483

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