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On the 25% Meals Tax Increase …

July 5, 2012 by Blue Ridge Leader filed under Editorial, Opinion 3 Comments
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“We make decisions on what is best for the Town.” – Councilmember John Nave

Last month the Town of Purcellville raised the town meals tax by 25 percent – from four percent to five percent. Councilmember Tom Priscilla stated that the increase was necessary due to a $1.5 million shortfall. More specifically, he cited developer defaults on public improvements for Locust Grove and Hirst Farm performance bonds, county versus town lawsuits related to efforts to block the Southern Collector Road, and lawsuits filed by Sam Brown (owner of Crooked Run Orchard) to protect his property from seizure by eminent domain/quick take.

The increase in the meals tax is not only unjustifiable … the reasons given for the increase are disingenuous.

Locust Grove and Hirst Farm Performance Bonds: While the bonds in question are the duty of the developer to secure, the town of Purcellville failed to verify that the bonds had been put in place, exposing residents to this liability.

County versus town lawsuits related to the Southern Collector Road: The town and county lawsuit in question was not about the Southern Collector Road. It was over the “out of phase” annexations that violated the town/county annexation agreement with respect to the land involved. The county lawsuit was filed when the town refused to answer any correspondence sent by the county and refused to meet to discuss the Purcellville Urban Growth Area Management Plan (PUGAMP) about the out of phase annexations. The agreement required the town to work with the county and provide documentation that the town would be able to provide adequate utilities for any future development. (PUGAMP is a 50-year agreement between Loudoun County and the town of Purcellville that details land use guidelines for development outside the town of Purcellville boundaries, ensuring that Purcellville would not grow at a pace that would overwhelm the town.)

Lawsuits filed by Sam Brown: Mr. Brown filed his lawsuit for a temporary injunction seeking to stop seizure of part of his farm until the town/county lawsuit over out of phase annexations was resolved. The town brought the cost of this lawsuit on themselves.

Councilmember Keith Melton stated: “This [meals] tax is for people outside of town,” and “it is the least taxing option to our residents.” Vice Mayor Joan Lehr stated: “One percent is not that huge, although it may stop some people from coming into town and that will affect other businesses as well.”

The meals tax is only estimated to bring in an additional $225,000 per year. When the town was asked to detail the $1.5 million shortfall, they provided documents showing legal fees totaling just over $653,000.

Prior to the town’s May elections, Mayor Bob Lazaro said that his constituents did not want the meals tax increased, and, voted against it in committee. In last month’s final vote, the meals tax passed 6-1 with only Vice Mayor Joan Lehr voting against.

From the town’s thinly veiled arguments as to the reason for the 25 percent increase, to the Mayor’s flip-flops on the issue, it is hard to see that any of this is in the best interests of the town.

3 comments

  1. Thai Paradise, LLC says:

    On the 25% meals tax increase to the new restaurant that is coming into Purcellville this is injustic to us. How do you expect the food service businesses to survive?? Why is it the restaurants is single out for this tax only and no other business is being tax??? If councilmember John Nave and other who voted for this think and I quote “We make decisions on what is best for the town.” We as the residents and business owners are in a BIG trouble. I for one do not need for him or other coucilemember to make any decision for our restuarant.

    What can the restaurant service business do now since the meals tax has been past?? We can only past this to our residents by increasing the cost of the foods and this suppose to be helping us???

    Councilmember Keith Melton stated: “This [meals] tax is for people outside of town,” and “it is the least taxing option to our residents.” I disagreed with this comment. And -Vice Mayor Joan Lehr stated: “One percent is not that huge, although it may stop some people from coming into town and that will affect other businesses as well.” Yes, it is a huge for the restaurant service and it will stop alots of people from coming to Purcellville and it will affect the whole town of Purcellville.

    With all that is said, voted without our input, one can only said that this town committee is only looking out for themselves and NOT for the people of this town. I thought that the the town of Purcellville councilmember was to work for the people of Purcellville??

  2. Cassandra says:

    Wake up, Purcellville. You elected these self-serving clowns.

  3. Eating elsewhere says:

    I’ll be taking my business to Hamilton or Leesburg…Pville has turned crass to try and direct-tax people who do not live in town. This is ludicrous logic with application of Jackson Pollock-style governance. Failure to verify bonds in the construction of the development…the whole town council should be fired.

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