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Loudoun County Says NO to Meals Tax

November 5, 2008

Meals tax cooked, school bonds pass

By Elizabeth Coe

Source: Loudoun Times-Mirror

Voters in Loudoun County overwhelmingly turned down the proposed meals tax Nov. 4, which would have added

asmall tax to food and beverages in restaurants and prepared, ready-to-serve foods in grocery stores.

Only about 29 percent of voters in the county voted "yes" to the tax.

Several groups had come out against the tax, proposed by the Board of Supervisors to help fund new school

construction. If passed, the meals tax could have raised $13 million annually.

Such a tax already exists in the incorporated towns of Leesburg, Purcellville, Hamilton and Middleburg.

Nicholas Graham, co-founder of the Loudoun Coalition Against the Food Tax, said he is pleased with the way

Loudoun voted.

"We were pleasantly surprised at the margin," he said. "Obviously the economy played a major factor. It weighed on

people's minds as they voted for president and stayed with them as they went down the ballot."

Graham added that this was "the wrong tax at the wrong time," stating that it unfairly targeted restaurants.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Scott York (I-at large) said had the tax passed, it would have provided the county

with another source of revenue for new schools.

"The voters keep overwhelmingly approving school construction, and the board thought this would relieve a little bit

of the pressure on the real property tax," he said. "A fairly sizable amount of meals are bought from people that live

outside the county visiting as tourists, business folks, etc., and a lot of this would have been paid for by

out-of-county folks."

Edgar Hatrick, superintendent of Loudoun County Public Schools, had supported the tax.

"I think it's unfortunate that it failed," he said. "It's hard to get a positive group out there in favor of a new tax. I'm

notsure that enough was made of the fact that the vast majority of us pay the meals tax now because of the towns."

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