LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — The meeting room at London City Hall had standing room only Wednesday afternoon as the London City Council met for the first reading of an ordinance establishing a restaurant retail sales tax.
If the second reading of the ordinance also passes, it will establish a three percent restaurant tax used to fund tourism and tourism related events in London and Laurel County.
London is classified as a fourth class city, and is authorized by KRS 91A.400 to levy up to a three percent tax on restaurant sales to fund local tourism commissions. All money received from a restaurant tax must be turned over to the community’s tourism and convention commission.
Currently around 16 percent of cities allowed to levy a restaurant tax have chosen to do so. Although restaurant taxes accounted for only one percent of total tax collection, they provided $11.2 million in revenue in FY 2011.
London Tourism and Convention Commission Chairman Bill Dezarn said that the tax will generate an estimated $1.9 million and that the funds will be used to bring more business to Laurel County through tourism and events. Dezarn also said that he and the city tourism commission plan to work along side the London-Laurel County Tourism Commission to make Laurel County a tourism destination.
Chris Robinson of London Downtown also supported the tax saying that it could be used to fund parks, sports fields, sports facilities, youth activities, sidewalks for pedestrians and cyclists, arts and entertainment, downtown development, seasonal community events or even hospitality training for restaurants, hotels and other businesses.
“As of 2013, 42 communities in the state have established a restaurant tax to benefit the community and promote tourism,” Robinson added. “Many cities in our region have restaurant taxes including Corbin, with a three percent tax; Williamsburg, with a three percent tax; Mt. Vernon, with a three percent tax; Burnside, with a three percent tax; Berea, with a three percent tax; Barbourville, with a three percent tax; Pineville, with a three percent tax and Harlan with a three percent tax.”