North Adams Transcript
ADAMS --Eating out in Adams shouldn’t get more expensive anytime soon as the Selectmen were mostly against enacting the state-allowed .75 percent meals tax at Wednesday night’s meeting.
Selectmen Arthur Harrington, Scott Nichols and Jason Hnatonko were strongly against the proposed tax while Selectman Mike Ouellette and Selectwoman Paula Melville were willing to consider it as a way to bring additional revenue to the town. Ouellette mentioned that the .75 percent tax means that a bill of $100 at a restaurant would mean only an additional 75 cents for the customer.
While almost every other city and town in North County has either enacted or is planning to enact the tax, Harrington said he would like to leave the taxes where they are.
"I’d like to see us keep the tax right where it is and have the local businesses get together and maybe advertise that we are a community that is not charging that extra tax," he said. "We could use this to our advantage and encourage local people in surrounding towns to come here and eat."
Nichols agreed, saying that the burden will be transferred to local people that patronize town eateries on a regular basis, and it may eventually lead to them cutting down on their spending.
Melville has mentioned at previous meetings that the state Department of Revenue estimated that Adams could generate up to $46,000 per year from the tax. Hnatonko said he could not support it because -- in addition to being a burden on local people and businesses -- cities and towns near Boston that have enacted the tax have discovered it only generates roughly one third of what the state has estimated. This would mean Adams would only receive an additional $16,000.
While the board was divided 3-2 against the meals tax, the members were more open to the similar tax on lodging. Harrington said his issue with the meals tax was that it affected local people that eat locally, while the lodging tax would only impact tourists or people visiting the area.
The only drawback to the tax is that there are only a few lodging businesses in Adams -- so few, in fact, that Town Administrator Jonathan Butler told the board that the state has said Adams does not even qualify for an estimate of how much revenue a lodging tax would bring in. However, Butler added, the long-term plans for the town are setting the stage for increased tourism and, probably, increased lodging.
"I think it would be good to have something like this on the books before we have a lot of development, and then it becomes an explosive issue," he said. "I think we should be proactive if we are going to do it."
The board decided to officially vote on the meals tax at its televised meeting next Wednesday and to continue considering a lodging tax.
To reach Ryan Hutton,