Southport approves raising food and beverage sales tax

Southport approves raising food and beverage sales tax
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 3:32 PM EST
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SOUTHPORT, N.C. (WECT) - The Southport Board of Aldermen will ask state legislators to consider approving a 1% hike in sales tax at restaurants in the city.

The board agreed to the proposal unanimously Thursday night. The additional revenue would allow the town to work on several infrastructure projects.

“How do we in some way monetize our visitors and our tourists for the benefit of the city? So this is one of the ways to do so,” Mayor Joe Pat Hattem said.

Currently, taxes are 6.75%, the same as most of the state.

Before the tax goes into effect, the town has to get approval from the state to add the additional tax. It will need support from its legislators, who can present it to the General Assembly for approval.

State statute requires revenue from the added tax to be used for tourism or cultural events, and according to an attachment to the meeting agenda, localities that have been approved in the past typically have high rates of tourism.

But residents said they weren’t so sure about the idea. With inflation already making food and other goods more expensive, some felt now may not be the right time to up taxes. Zee Brehmer and Mary Posey attended the meeting and said they’re already paying a lot both in taxes and at restaurants.

“My husband and I don’t go out that often because it’s just too expensive,” Posey said, saying the additional tax would add even more of a strain.

Southport requested a 1% increase in food and beverage tax previously in 2017. A consensus in the General Assembly was never reached, so it was denied.

Currently, only 14 local jurisdictions across the state are permitted to charge the additional 1% in taxes.