If Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan had her way, Greensboro would have a prepared food tax, usually called a restaurant tax.

Vaughan is so in favor of the new tax that she held an invitation-only meeting on Monday, July 17 at 10 a.m. at Windows on Elm in downtown Greensboro, where the invitees were restaurant and bar owners.

Vaughan said before the meeting that she expected to hear a lot of objections, and she did.

No restaurant owner spoke in favor of the proposed new 1 percent tax on prepared food and drink. They had a lot of comments on how the City of Greensboro could improve the environment for their industry – such as reducing crime and streamlining permitting and inspections – but adding a new tax was not on the list of anyone who spoke.

However, Vaughan has a much more difficult task than just convincing restaurant and bar owners a new tax is what Greensboro needs.

In North Carolina, neither the mayor and City Council nor restaurant owners get to make the decision on imposing a prepared food tax.

The authority to impose a restaurant tax lies with the North Carolina General Assembly in Raleigh.

As Vaughan noted at the Monday meeting, no bill has been introduced in the legislature, which is currently winding down the 2023 session, so any proposal would at least have to wait for the 2024 session of the legislature to be introduced.

The Greensboro City Council is made up of eight Democrats and one Republican. In both Houses of the General Assembly, the Republicans have a veto-proof majority. A vote of 60 percent is needed to override a veto.

It is also worth noting that when North Carolina was, for the second year in a row named by CNBC as the best state in the country for business, both state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) and President Pro Tem of the state Senate Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) noted that they attributed much of the economic success of the state to the steady reduction in taxes by the Republican legislature.

Vaughan doesn’t have to convince the restaurant and bar owners in Greensboro that taxing prepared food and drink an additional 1 percent is a good idea, but Vaughan and supporters of the prepared food and drink tax will have to convince the legislature that, while the state is benefitting from lower taxes, what will benefit Greensboro is more taxes.

In the past, the legislature has not outright approved prepared food taxes, but approved the taxes pending a referendum, which means the voters of Greensboro or perhaps of Guilford County would most likely be given the opportunity to vote a new tax up or down.

The voters of Guilford County have voted down an increase in sales tax when it has been placed on the ballot.