Fishers seeking public input on tax-hike proposal

Fishers’ Town Council is convening a special meeting next week to hear what residents think of a proposal to raise the food-and-beverage tax by 1 percent.

A public hearing is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 12 at Town Hall. It is the only item on the agenda.

Councilors won’t vote until next month.

Legislators authorized the tax hike this year, with certain restrictions: Officials must decide whether to proceed by Dec. 31, and any revenue from the increase can only be used to fund economic development or lower the town’s tax levy.

A 1-percent increase is expected to generate about $1 million a year.

Town Council member (and mayoral candidate) Renee Cox already has said she does not support the proposal, emailing a statement Monday saying she opposes “any new tax that adds to the burden of small businesses … and Fishers families.”

“Taxing should not be a fiscal conservatives’ solution,” she wrote. “I strongly support economic development and believe there is a better way to fund it.”

Fishers Chamber of Commerce Chairwoman Kelly Marburger Novak, meanwhile, sent the council a letter expressing the chamber board’s support for the proposal.

“The Fishers Chamber places economic development as a top priority and we believe that our town needs to continue to grow in order to maintain our superior quality of  life,” she wrote.

The increase shouldn't put Fishers restaurants at a competitive disadvantage, she said, since other communities in Hamilton County have collected the additional 1 percent for years.

Hamilton County was one of the six counties surrounding Indianapolis that approved a 1-percent food-and-beverage tax eight years ago to help build Lucas Oil Stadium. Counties keep half the revenue and transfer the rest to Marion County’s Capital Improvement Board, which owns the stadium.

At the time, individual communities were given the option of instituting an additional 1-percent tax for their own use. Officials in Carmel, Noblesville and Westfield seized the opportunity, but Fishers decided not to participate.

Town Council President John Weingardt said no decision will be made without plenty of community feedback. A second public hearing is scheduled during the council’s regular meeting Nov. 18.

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