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April 10, 2013

Amesbury restaurants say 'no' to tax hike

AMESBURY — Amesbury restaurant owners are lining up to oppose a proposed local meals tax that is currently being considered by the City Council, arguing that it could hurt their business.

A petition urging the councilors not to approve the new tax was presented to councilors last night, and so far 10 owners and a restaurant employee have signed it.

If approved, the local meals tax would impose an additional 0.75 percent charge on the price of meals, or 38 cents on a $50 tab. The local tax would be in addition to the state’s 6.25 percent sales tax. Newburyport approved a similar tax hike in 2010.

Councilor James Kelcourse, who opposes the tax and started the petition, said the owners of Cherry Bomb, the Barking Dog and Ale House, Hodgie’s, Leo’s Super Bowl, The Barn Pub and Grille, Stage Two Cinema Pub, Fat Cat’s Bistro, Mandarin Amesbury, Wild Bites and Subway, along with another Subway employee, have signed the petition and expressed their opposition to the tax.

“They’ll all signed the petition,” Kelcourse said. “It’s pretty much just one sentence that says I oppose the local option meals tax and I request that the City Council not pass it.”

Kelcourse said he started the petition after he heard supporters of the bill say they hadn’t heard of any opposition to the tax, and then went out to see if that was really true.

“When I asked if they had any support for this, a few supporters of the bill said they hadn’t gotten any opposition to the bill,” Kelcourse said. “Which meant to me that nobody had gone out and spoken to the businesses.”

When he went out and started talking to businesses, he said that most had only received a phone call or an email and hadn’t received much information about the proposal, if any at all.

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