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Opponents chew up proposed Durham food tax

Posted November 4, 2008

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— Durham County voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a proposed 1 percent meal tax that proponents had said was needed to fund cultural and recreational projects.

Almost three-quarters of voters cast ballots against the measure, according to unofficial results.

County and city leaders worked for the better part of two decades for the tax, which would have been applied to restaurant meals and prepared food at grocery stores.

Proponents said the tax would raise between $5 million and $7 million a year, with the average person paying a minimum of approximately $20 a year. Raising the same amount via property taxes would mean an additional $300 a year on a $150,000 home, they said.

Opponents said such a tax is poor timing in a struggling economy.

The Durham Citizens Against the Food Tax, organized by Dallas Woodhouse, the director of the anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity in Wake County, had organized the opposition with some residents and the Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Proponents said outsiders shouldn't play a role in the referendum.

Wake County, Hillsborough, Charlotte and Fayetteville have similar taxes. The Wake County food and beverage tax collected more than $16 million last year, helping to fund projects like the RBC Center.


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  • whatusay Nov 5, 2008

    You defiant tax voters will be blind sided by a property tax increase. Your county commissioners will show you, and there is nothing you can do about it.

  • BadDayforButch Nov 5, 2008

    This is hilarious ! The people in Durham overwhelmingly voted for Democrats who are going to raise taxes a lot more than this, but when presented with a minimal tax to vote on, they oppose it. This little tax will be the least of their worries !

  • lee5376 Nov 5, 2008

    Too bad this had so much opposition...I was in minority that voted for it apparently...I personally felt at a price tag of pennies up to $0.75 (for an estimated family of 4 meal at $75 )for every meal out was not a great cost to fund cultural/ rec projects that would enhance our community.

  • davidbh61255 Nov 5, 2008

    I agree the users, performers and artists need to anti-up for these multi-million dollar facilities. I just can't help but think this new tax would be abused like our other taxes and fees,and levies and assessments and any other money that the Durham governments' recieve. Durham can't be fixed with more lights and a new paint job. Our poverty areas are getting bigger and more populated! FIX THAT!

  • thefensk Nov 5, 2008

    Yay. There are a few places in Durham I like so now I don't have to skip them.

    on this: "Proponents said outsiders shouldn't play a role in the referendum."

    Reminds me of an alcohol referendum years ago in Abiliene TX. It was dry. There was a little wet precinct "town" called Impact. Virtually all the money for the opposition campaign came from the liquor store owners in Impact. After the referendum passed, Impact pretty much just disappeared.

  • AuntySocial Nov 5, 2008

    No Doug, the closest I have seen the RBC Center is driving down 40. I can't afford to go there. I wonder if there is a way for Wake County residents to rise up and repeal that unnecessary tax here.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 5, 2008

    good job Durham voters.

  • iron fist Nov 5, 2008

    The citizens of Durham won round one. The mayor is trying to rasie taxes without the citizens getting to vote. We need to vote him out. ENOUGH TAXES DURHAM !!!!

  • DougWare.NET Nov 5, 2008

    Hmmm....the wake county version of the tax helped raise money for the RBC Center? Did that place need any help? Have you seen the food prices there?

    I live in Durham, I voted against the food tax because it was a bad idea.

  • 68_polara Nov 5, 2008

    "Why don't these day dreamers who want to increase taxes start charging people who use the cultural and athletic facilities instead of forcing every citizen to share in the burden of supporting it?"

    because that would be counter to the socialistic objectives of the liberal leaders of Durham.