Letter at length, October 23

Support Ashland — support the city's food and beverage tax

In considering the meals tax, I ask myself the golden question: Is this tax good or bad for our community? I'm not asking whether or not it keeps people from spending their money in Ashland. I'm not asking whether or not it keeps people from dining in Ashland restaurants. I am asking, "Is it good or bad for our city as a whole?" This is what we need to ask to make the right decision.

I have great respect for my colleagues in our local restaurant and lodging community, and I recognize that times are tougher than they have been in recent years. Yet, let's not blame this hardship on the tax, and don't think for a moment that life in the hospitality business will get easier if the tax goes away!

Let's imagine that the tax did go away and now a no-meals-tax Ashland attracted more people. Isn't it just a matter of time before more new hotels and new restaurants fill the vacuum? Then, bam, we are back to tough times for hotels and restaurants, only this time with no tax to blame, with increased utilities on top of that.

I hear my peers claiming Ashland loses customers to surrounding areas, but I haven't seen that. Standing Stone's customer comment card database has almost 14,000 entries, dating back to 2003, and we've had only had 13 mentioning the tax! Although we generate almost 4 percent of the city's food and beverage tax revenue, we seldom hear remarks about the tax.

Just this Saturday we received this comment card written by a couple visiting from California: "We learned from our knowledgeable and courteous wait persons that there is a possibility of rescinding the food tax — 5 percent. We believe that is an unwise step — as annual visitors from California the tax is hardly noticeable. The use of the tax for water and parks for the city should make it a foregone conclusion — the benefits far outweigh any pain that tourists might feel in the pocketbook. The $1.30 that we paid tonight we gladly contribute to maintain the health and ambience of Ashland."

Any way you look at it, the tax is responsible for bringing close to $700,000 every year into our community, almost ¾ of a million dollars that would otherwise be paid for directly by Ashland ratepayers. Visitors use the services that the tax funds, making things fair and affordable for all.

I support the tax because it supports our community as a whole. Voting against Ashland ratepayers and only for Ashland restaurants isn't good for Ashland or Ashland restaurants in the long run. Join me in allowing Ashland to help support itself by voting in favor of the food and beverage tax.

Alex Amarotico

Ashland

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