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South Shore CVA Opposes Use of Hospitality Tax to Fund Busing System
"I am not the only college graduate, disabled individual or area resident who relies on public transportation...But, I have more faith that I will grow arms, stand up and walk out of this wheelchair before you, than I have in the RBA's ability to effectively and responsibly operate any form of transportation in Lake county or anywhere in the state of Indiana or that matter."
Raymond Fletcher (1/13/2009, speaking to the Lake County Council)
The local public has seen an enormous amount of media coverage on the issue of the food and beverage tax used to fund busing in Lake County. In the past, the South Shore CVA has been outspoken on the issue of using hospitality taxes for non-hospitality related projects, and will continue to be opposed to outside threats on the hospitality industry.
The Regional Bus Authority is continuing to pursue a 1% food and beverage tax in Lake County for regional bus service and to bailout failing bus systems in northern Lake County.
A food and beverage tax at this time would be detrimental to the hospitality industry - given the current economic climate. Speros Batistatos, President/CEO of the SSCVA has been quoted saying, "this is the wrong project, at the wrong time for the wrong tax." Batistatos also stated, "I believe transportation is an issue that needs to be addressed, but an appropriate funding mechanism must be used." The hospitality industry's principal is that it carries its own weight; any tax on the hospitality industry should be reinvested to create direct tourism opportunities. Transportation related taxes such as a wheel or fuel tax would be an appropriate tax to fund projects like busing.
The 1% tax on food and beverage proposal must be approved by the Lake County Council before it moves forward. The County Council, at their regular monthly meeting, decided to schedule a special meeting to hear more public input before voting on the measure. Approximately one dozen citizens spoke at the January meeting; more than half opposed a tax and questioned the Regional Bus Authority's use of the $6 million that could be raised through the food and beverage tax.