The mayor has recently raised the issue of a [food and beverage] tax. I am not opposed to taxes per se. What I have often have wondered, as a former restaurant owner, continuing volunteer and active citizen, why the city has not considered a tax on activities such as professional services? Perhaps there could be a tax on legal transactions, attorney fees, accounting fees and such?
I should like to point out: Asheville has received tremendous benefit from independent restaurants and tourism in general. I do grant there are downsides, as there are downsides to every endeavor. The Creative Asheville Community, of which I count the heroes of food labor, has provided the oxygen for a vibrant and energetic city. All the white-collar professions have benefited — we brought your clients here. Indeed, much of the present medical community moved here due to the food, music and other cultural amenities. Why not tax that activity as well?
The question, to me at least, is how to fairly distribute the responsibility of city finances. It is easy to point the finger, to stir the emotional pot, say “bad dog hospitality business”; it is really hard to say, “I, as a beneficiary of this remarkable renaissance, will also do my share; my practice, my business, should pitch in; tax me, too.”
I would also like to point out how generous our independent restaurant community partners are. In a recent study, conducted by Magellan Strategy Group for the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, of 41 respondents, the average annual in-kind and cash contribution to local nonprofits averaged $19,933. I do not believe my restaurant peers frequently say “no” to their neighbors.
I believe it is a worthy consideration to ask our professional neighbors to take a look in the mirror. I don’t believe that a 1 percent F&B tax will damage the independent restaurants, but neither would a similar tax on professional services.
— Mark Rosenstein
Hero of kitchen labor (recovering)