Tourism Commission recommends higher restaurant tax

At the Barbourville Tourism and Recreation Commission meeting Monday, it was decided that the commission would present a motion to the city council to slightly raise restaurant taxes within the city from two percent, to three percent.

In 2013, most of the neighboring towns, including Pineville, Harlan, Corbin and Williamsburg, with the same classification as Barbourville, required a three percent restaurant tax within the city. Barbourville, although being one of the first to instate the tax, has not raised the tax since 1993, when it first came into effect and was commonly referred to as the Hamburger Tax.

“We’re trying to compete with London or Corbin and the things that they’re doing with their additional finances,” said commission member Lynn Taylor. “People look at us and say ‘well, why don’t you all do something like that?’ and we just don’t have the funds for it.”

It’s not just larger towns that issued the three percent tax rate. Cumberland, with a population nearly 1,000 less than Barbourville and Evarts, with a population of just 962 in 2010, both instituted a three percent restaurant tax.

“It will definitely make a difference for us,” said Director of Tourism Denise Wainscot. “If you remember, we have several projects on the drawing board that we can’t yet develop fully, like our trail system. And that’s really important to do.”

The motion to present the raise to the town council passed unanimously. The board plans on getting the city attorney to aid in writing the official motion to be presented to the council at the next meeting.

“With all the projects going on, and people wanting more help, additional income will really be a good thing,” added Chairman Randall Young.