The City Council work session Tuesday, May 9 was held to discuss a report on aquatic facility needs of the Greensboro Parks and Recreation Department.

According to the report, Plan2Splash, the cost for maintenance of the existing pools and spraygrounds and for new facilities is about $82 million.

It didn’t take long during the council discussion of the report to bring up the need for “new revenue streams” to pay for those expenses.  What the City Council calls “revenue streams” most people call taxes.

In particular, a new tax that the City Council has been discussing for some time, mostly in private, is the restaurant tax, also known as the prepared food tax.  Just as it sounds, this is an additional tax paid on food and beverages but not alcoholic beverages sold ready to eat, whether it is on site or take out.  The rules for the tax are complicated and have a number of special exceptions, but it is basically a tax on restaurant-type food.

Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I’m the liaison to the Sports Foundation for the City Council and we have been studying quite extensively how other cities are way ahead of us.  Greensboro has the opportunity to become a youth sports town.  We basically are, but all of the other cities are so far ahead of us, building all of these new facilities and there is a word out there I don’t even want to use, but they are seeking other avenues to collect revenue for people who are passing through on a one-cent food sales tax, I said it.  Prepared food, prepared food tax, and actually on our board is Adrian Smith, who is with McDonald’s, and he said they have it in Charlotte. They have it in South Carolina. Everybody that travels through these cities for all those tournaments, they are paying that.”

Mayor Nancy Vaughan said, “It seems to me that when you take Greensboro and compare it to these other cities, you’re just missing out on so much, because they are looking at different income streams or they get different support in their county.”

Charlotte does have a prepared food tax while Greensboro does not, but in Charlotte the current property tax rate is 34.81 while in Greensboro, the current property tax rate is 63.25. So the property tax rate in Greensboro is not quite double the rate in Charlotte, but pretty close.