Letter at length, October 9

Please, vote no on the meals tax

I have heard good arguments on both sides of the meals tax debate, and good people with good intentions can disagree and still respect and honor each other and appreciate the validity of the various ideas. For me, there are three points against the meals tax that stand out and convince me that, on balance, the negatives outweigh the positives.

First of all, it just seems wrong to tax, of all things, food. Food should be the one thing exempt from any sales tax. Grocery store delis are the biggest tax collectors, and the people paying the tax on their food are mostly local Ashland working people who run in after work to grab dinner to feed their families. I see this every day before dinner where I work at one of those grocery stores. I also started a little fast food place called Koko's Bento-Dog Café on A Street, and our customers are local, working-class people who are in a hurry and on a budget. Taxing their food just doesn't seem right.

The second point is that this form of tax collection just isn't efficient. Why pay the food establishment 5 percent of the revenue for collecting it, pay city administrators to collect it from the collectors and pay auditors and lawyers to enforce the collection and try to catch the cheaters who are underreporting? My guess is that only about 75 percent of the current tax receipts end up going where they are intended. Why not just cut out the middleman? After all, 100 percent of the sewer bill goes directly and efficiently to the city without any money lost.

The third point is that it hurts the Ashland economy. A recent survey showed that even more people from surrounding areas than had been previously thought stay away from Ashland because of this tax. Without the tax, people say they would come back and spend their money in Ashland. This would revive local businesses of all kinds and create much needed local jobs.

If, despite all this, the majority vote for it, we at Koko's will continue to faithfully collect the tax from our customers for the city; moreover, we will do so with appreciation, since it will have been our customers who would have chosen this as the best course of action for Ashland.

Zack Burrows


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