Selectmen in Sharon decided against a local meals tax in 2011, but are bringing it to this year’s May 6 Town Meeting, according to Town Administrator Benjamin Puritz. The state estimates Sharon would have collected about $126,000 in 2012 from a local meals tariff.
Some municipalities that either have imposed the tax, or are considering it, have quarreled over how to spend the cash influx. In Scituate, for example, voters will have two options when they take up the tax question when Town Meeting opens on April 9.
Selectmen have an article on the warrant that simply asks for permission to adopt the meals tax, with no directive on how the money should be spent. Various suggestions have included using the estimated $200,000 annual windfall to repair sea walls, build a new school, and move Town Hall to another site.
The Scituate Economic Development Commission, however, is asking Town Meeting to approve the tax and earmark the money for a special fund set aside for business expansion in town. The money could be used for “infrastructure improvements benefiting the town’s business districts,” market research, advertising, coordinated marketing efforts and events, as well as providing incentive for new businesses to locate in Scituate or existing ones to expand.
Cohasset Town Meeting, which opens April 22, also faces a vote on the local meals tax. The state estimates the tax could generate about $330,000 annually. Officials have not said how the money would be spent.
Johanna Seltz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.