Bob Taylor, the owner of Cherry Bomb, said the first he heard of the proposal was when Kelcourse came in to ask him about it. He signed the petition shortly afterward.
“I’m not in favor of any tax increases unless they’re absolutely necessary,” Taylor said.
Kelcourse said most of the other businesses he spoke to had a similar sentiment.
“I haven’t found one business who supports this,” Kelcourse said. “And it’s obvious that the public doesn’t support it either.”
Despite the apparent wide-ranging opposition, Mayor Thatcher Kezer said no businesses had called his office to express their opinion on the matter, and yesterday was the first he’d heard of the circulating petition.
Melissa LaChance, director of the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce, said she’d also just been made aware of the petition and was discussing the issue with her members who would be affected by the new tax.
LaChance added the Chamber isn’t ready to take a position either way at this point and won’t be until everyone has had a chance to do their homework and a consensus can be reached.
“We’ve been engaged in conversations and we want to support our members, so we’re trying to gather as much as information as we can,” LaChance said.
Since Councilor Christian Scorzoni first proposed it, the local meals tax bill has proven particularly divisive among the city councilors, who were deadlocked over the bill at a recent Finance Committee meeting.
At that meeting, the councilors voted 4-4-1 on the bill, sending it back to the City Council with a divided recommendation. Councilors Scorzoni, Anne Ferguson, Robert Gilday and Bob Lavoie voted in favor and Kelcourse, Donna McClure, Joseph McMilleon and Derek Kimball were opposed. Allen Neale cast the final vote, choosing not to pick a side by voting “present.”