Henrico restaurant owner has beef with proposed meals tax

Posted at 6:54 PM, Oct 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-10-24 17:45:12-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - On Election Day, November 5, Henrico voters head to the polls to vote on a referendum that would authorize the county to implement a 4 percent meals tax.

As the vote approaches, supporters and opponents in Henrico are becoming more vocal on the issue.

For Joey Mirable of Joey's Hot Dogs in Innsbrook, the Henrico meals tax proposal is not as simple a concept as making one of his famous dogs.

The proposed 4 percent tax would, on one hand, provide Henrico schools with an $18 million boost, something Joey says he strongly supports.

"My wife’s a teacher, I’ve taken money out of my own pocket the last three years to support Henrico music and arts,” he said.

But he fears the new tax would also hurt his Innsbrook business.

He explained that $10 of hot dogs would cost 40 cents more and for that reason he's against it, giving every hot dog he sells a sticker that proclaims “vote no to the meals tax.”

“I'm raising my prices--the person this is going to affect is the mom trying to raise a couple of kids.”

Keith Gastrock is president of the Henrico business leaders, a group supporting the tax.

“The meals tax seems to be a more economical option,” he said.

Gastrock said the possibility of increased property taxes or cuts in services if the tax doesn't pass are scenarios most business owners do not want to entertain.

“Every single new business that comes into Henrico County asks ‘what is your real estate tax?’ They have never asked ‘what is your meals tax?’” he said.

As for Joey, he plans to keep the flyers in stock near his cash register for the next couple weeks, believing customers are being squeezed—not unlike his mustard bottles--enough as it is.

Many restaurant owners in Henrico certainly concerned.

A manager at Comfort, a restaurant in Richmond, told CBS 6 that he once thought business would suffer when Richmond’s instituted a meals tax a couple years ago, but he said it has not had any effect.