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March 25, 2014

Restaurant tax passes second reading

Commission will take over fireworks and other city tourism activities

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — Effective July 1, London will join the list of local cities that have implemented a three-percent restaurant tax to fund tourism and tourism type activities.  The decision was made in a 4 to 2 vote Thursday afternoon in a special called City Council meeting.

Council members Nancy Vaughn, Jason Handy, Billy Jo Parman and Jim Hayes voted for the tax, while Judd Weaver and Danny Phelps voted against it.

A restaurant is defined in the ordinance as “any fixed or mobile commercial establishment that engages in the preparation and serving of ready-to-eat foods in portions to the consumer including but not limited to grills, tearooms, sandwich shops, soda fountains, taverns, cocktail lounges delicatessens, roadside stands, street vendors, catering kitchens, commissaries, non-package ice cream and/or yogurt, service stations or similar places in which food is prepared for sale for consumption on the premises or elsewhere.

“It does not include school or food vending machines nor does it include any organization identified by the Commonwealth of Kentucky or the Internal Revenue Service as a non-profit or charity organization.”

Temporary food stands and street vendors, often seen at events like the World Chicken Festival, are not exempt from the new three-percent tax.

Funds will be maintained by the city treasurer in a special account and will be dispersed to the commission on a monthly basis, based on their budget.  The money must be used solely for recreation, convention and tourist activities and the maintenance of those activities.

In the future, City Attorney Larry Bryson stated the tourism commission will be required to make their audits public record and available to the city council.

“As a part of this ordinance, it does require the commission be independently audited and that the audit be made public record and that those records be made available to the city council,” he said.

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