Bath Meals Tax Takes Effect July 1
Hot Springs, VA – A 1-percent meals tax will go into effect in Bath County July 1. At Tuesday night’s Bath Board of Supervisors meeting the board unanimously passed an ordinance for a county food and beverage tax. The board previously considered setting the meals tax at 4 percent. On Tuesday night two people expressed concern about the impact a 4-percent tax would have in the current economic situation and recommended phasing in a higher amount over a period of time.
Supervisor Richard Byrd said he had been against a 4-percent meals tax because he was afraid of economic consequences. He suggested reducing the amount.
To help defray the cost of collecting the tax, businesses will receive a commission of 3 percent of the collections. The meals tax applies to meals in restaurants and to beverages served as part of meals. It also applies to prepared food sold by grocery stores and convenience stores. The tax does not apply to groceries.
Under the meals tax, non profit organizations are allowed to hold 3 fundraiser dinners per year without collecting the tax. But beginning with the fourth meal per year, the tax will need to be collected. County attorney Mike Collins said that’s the law–that all citizens of the county must be uniformly taxed. The board plans to start work on a request for the Virginia General Assembly next year to revise the meals tax law to change the number of tax free meals a non profit can have per year. Free will donation meals are not covered by the meals tax–only meals that have a set price.
Also on Tuesday night, the board passed a revised ordinance on the regulation of fire and security alarms. The ordinance calls for security systems to be maintained to prevent false alarms that emergency personnel respond to. The county revised an alarms ordinance that was passed in 1997, which was never added to local code. The new ordinance sets fees at $100 for the third false alarm and $200 for the fourth false alarm. Subsequent false alarms within any period of 6 consecutive months have a fee of $1000 a day for each day that the system is unrepaired. This new ordinance went into effect at midnight on Tuesday March 9. Any alarm system that goes through the 911 system at the sheriff’s department is covered under this ordinance.
The tight state budget was also discussed on Tuesday night, even though final budget numbers have not been received yet from Richmond. Supervisor Percy Nowlin is concerned about public funding for localities, saying it is a major problem for public education. Supervisor Byrd said the board will have to make some very difficult decisions in the next couple of months. He said hitting personnel may be the only place left to go in cuts. Supervisor Carol Hardbarger said she’s heard from those concerned that there’s discussion going on again about closing Millboro elementary school. he said those who think closing the school is the best way to save money, should consider the families in Millboro.
For more from Tuesday night’s Bath Board of Supervisors meeting, tune in to Noon Hour Magazine on Thursday.