The window of opportunity is about to close on a proposed 1-percent food-and-beverage tax in Fishers.
Legislators set a Dec. 31 deadline for the Town Council to pass the tax, the revenue from which could only be used to lower property taxes or support economic development efforts. But members tabled the controversial measure earlier this month when they couldn’t reach a consensus.
At the time, councilors said a vote was still possible by the end of the year—particularly if a pending economic development deal could be finalized in time to show residents how the tax revenue would be used.
Critics who spoke during two public hearings on the proposal this fall said it didn’t make sense to impose a new tax without tying it to a specific economic development project.
Councilors who supported the additional levy insisted several deals are in the works, including one that could result in a $100 million investment in the community.
The tax is estimated to generate about $1 million a year, which council veteran Scott Faultless said could be leveraged to make about $25 million in necessary infrastructure improvements to land that big deal.
But councilors took no action at their final regular meeting of the year on Dec. 27, and Indiana’s open door law requires public agencies to announce meetings at least two days in advance. So the proposal will die without a vote.
What that means for the pending deals remains to be seen.
The council could ask the General Assembly to reauthorize the tax, but that's not likely to be received well at the Statehouse. And even supporters may be hard-pressed to to push for a tax hike during an election year; Fishers residents go to the polls in both 2014 and 2015.
Hamilton County was one of six counties that imposed a 1-percent food-and-beverage tax eight years ago as part of a regional deal to help build Lucas Oil Stadium. Half of that revenue is transferred to Marion County’s Capital Improvement Board, which owns the stadium.
At the time, municipalities could choose to institute an additional 1-percent tax for their own use. Officials in Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield seized the opportunity, but Fishers said no.