Local News

Opponents chew up proposed Durham food tax

Posted November 4, 2008 9:24 p.m. EST
Updated November 4, 2008 10:32 p.m. EST

— 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.