Pam Buis of Famous Recipe restaurant, who has gathered information from other small towns concerning tourism tax, said she is for growth in the community, but wants to see a plan before any tax is enacted. Some surrounding towns have tax on lodging but few have tax on restaurants, she said.
Buis said if enacted, the tax would be on any prepared food, including deli food in service stations and grocery stores. The City Council indicated earlier the tax would not be imposed on service stations and groceries where prepared food is sold.
Buis wants to study the proposal to see what effect it will have on business owners and how it could benefit the city. She also questioned the council about how local tourism events would be promoted. Currently, fund-raisers are held with the help of businesses and companies to get money to sponsor entertainment and other events.
Arlen Sanders, executive director of the Liberty/Casey Economic Development Authority, said if tourism brings visitors into the community, that would eliminate asking businesses for money. The tourism commission would be responsible for helping out.
Buis had a magazine which advertises festivals and other events free of charge, but did not list anything from Casey County.
"We need to utilize this," she said. "All we have to do is to get our ducks in a row and use it," she said.
She also wanted to know why the tax would be set at 3 percent.
Sanders said 3 percent is the maximum the city can impose. He said that much is recommended since there are so few restaurants and accommodations. The money generated also will help the city get state grant funds.
"We want to see a plan, a structured program for this type of money," Buis said. "We want to know how the commission members are picked, how the money will be spent and who makes the appointments. "We need to have responsible people to be on the commission."
Mayor Steve Sweeney said he will appoint the commission, according to state law, and representatives from restaurants, lodging and others involved in tourism will be members.
"We're a long way from the tax," Sweeney said. "If the city chooses to enact the tax, it will be two meetings away. I assure you that restaurants will have a big voice in it."
The mayor assured the people that their advice will be sought throughout the process if a tax is considered. He said a commission will be appointed within the next two or three months.
Buis also said that people need to be involved and need to discuss the proposal, especially if tax money is involved.
In other action, the council:
n Agreed to buy a $23,815 Chevrolet utility truck from Bob Allen Motors, Liberty.
n Set trick or treat hours 5-7 p.m. Oct. 31.
n Set the property tax rate at 1.997 cents per $100 property valuation and 2.80 cents per $100 valuation for motor vehicles. The rates are up by 7/10 of a cent.
n Heard former city employee Glen Wilson request a written reply to a complaint he made a few months ago about the police department. He was concerned about police officers coming to his residence and arresting a man. He received a letter from the police officers but wanted a reply from the council.
n Heard Police Chief Ron Whited say he had a policy and procedure manual for the police department. He asked the city to review the materials, then take action. He also said the city needs an ordinance about people collecting money at intersections. The mayor will check with the state League of Cities on the matter.