Mayor proposes drive-thru tax

Posted By W. Brice McVicar

The City of Belleville could be motoring its way toward a new form of taxation.

Mayor Neil Ellis told The Intelligencer he hopes to introduce a resolution at the April 14 council meeting to create a tax aimed at motorists who use drive-thrus. Under the proposed tax, every purchase would have an additional five per cent tax with the funds being returned to the city.

"What I plan on doing is bringing it to council to endorse," the mayor said. "From there it will have to be sent to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for endorsement and then it would have to go to the province."

Ellis said the tax could be labelled a "sin tax" as motorists have the option of parking their vehicle and going inside the establishment as opposed to allowing their car to idle as they wait in line. This means only those who choose to use a drive-thru would be paying the additional five per cent.

Like other municipalities in Ontario, Belleville has limited access to revenue with property taxes being the bulk provider. A drive-thru tax could supplement income and assist the city with its aging infrastructure, the mayor said.

"Waiting for funding from the province every year has to change. Other municipalities like Toronto have other forms of taxes and my sense is property taxes can’t keep growing and growing, so we either have a form of uploading to the government or we find new ways to get funding," he said. "This is funding that will come directly back to us and it’ll probably remain stable because when you look at the number of people who are buying a hamburger or a coffee or a meal… You could almost judge every year what you’re going to get."

The mayor said he has not discussed the idea with each member of council though some have been polled on the idea. Those he has talked with, he said, were receptive to the new tax.

He expects others will be too.

"They know as council we need another form of revenue. When you look at all of our infrastructure needs it’s obvious we need more," he said.

A need for more revenue is understood by city resident Dan Patterson but collecting it from those who may be in a rush seems questionable, he said.

"I pay enough in my property taxes, don’t I?" Patterson asked while waiting in line at a Tim Hortons drive-thru. "I shouldn’t be expected to pay more because I don’t want to go in a store."




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