New food and beverage tax could bring extra dollars to Whitestown

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A proposed 1 percent food and beverage tax that would have a small effect on diners in Whitestown is expected make a large impact on the town’s finances.

The Indiana Senate recently approved Senate Bill 109, which would allow Whitestown, Danville and Greenwood to impose a food and beverage tax up to 1 percent. The bill will now be assigned to a House committee in early March.

Whitestown has never had a food and beverage tax, but if the bill is approved, the town could see a financial benefit. The tax would come at a minor price to consumers. 

“The tax amount is small, just 1 percent. It will hardly be noticeable to the consumer,” interim Whitestown Town Manager Jason Lawson said. “A $50 meal, for example, would mean just an additional 50 cents on the bill. It’s a small amount to diners, yet we expect that extra 1 percent would bring in more than $200,000 annually that the town can use for infrastructure and quality-of-life improvements.

“This is especially important as we get more visitors to our growing town, which we expect to happen due to the new retail opening soon, the new Little League headquarters being built in Whitestown and the new hotels coming to our community.”

With the tax, Whitestown could see additional revenue of $223,400 in 2020 and $233,800 in 2021.

State Rep. Donna Schaibley (R-Carmel), who represents part of Whitestown, said she might support the bill depending on what, if any, changes are made as it makes its way through committee. The bill has yet to be assigned to a committee, but past food and beverage tax bills have been sent to the House Ways and Means Committee.

“The town council is the fiscal body of the town, and (the bill allows it to) adopt an ordinance to impose an excise tax known as the food and beverage tax,” Schaibley said. “I would look into (supporting) it. I think I would be inclined to support it, but until I see it after it goes through committee, you never know what changes happen to bills.”

The 2019 legislative session is slated to end by April 29. If the bill passes, and if it is declared as an emergency bill, it would go into effect as soon as Gov. Eric Holcomb signs it. However, if it goes through the normal process, it would go into effect July 1.

If the bill is approved, the Whitestown Town Council would be required to have a public hearing and adopt it as well.

“As we attract more businesses, retail, hotels and the Little League headquarters to town, it is important that we capture that revenue from our visitors to help us maintain infrastructure,” Lawson said. “If it passes, it will be up to the town council to decide how to best spend that revenue.” 

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