UPDATE | City council considers new hospitality tax

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Aiken City leaders could soon take an extra penny out of your pocket every time you eat out in Aiken. It's part of a plan to update things like sewar and water lines across the city.

Aiken City Council is one step closer to putting a new one cent hospitality tax on the table and long time residents like Bruce Stephens say sometimes you just have to pay.

"As far as taxation is concerned. It's here to stay, and they aren't going anywhere," Bruce Stephens said.

City council would split the tax money between 4 different categories paying for things like a $500,000 public parking garage downtown, a new storm sewer system where Starbucks and Chipotle are set to move in and business license relief to help bring more businesses to Aiken.

About 60 percent of tax revenue will come from people who live outside the city.

Councilman Dick Dewar believes Aiken should consider other options to pay for upgrades before moving forward with the tax. He wants to cut costs before adding that extra penny.

"I think we always need to look at governmental waste because there's always money being wasted," Stephens said.

City leaders expect the tax will generate around 1.2 million dollars a year. It'll need the support of 4 councilmembers to take it to a second reading.

"If we can work on our attitude and the beautification of the city...Then we'll do really well."

If it does pass, that hospitality tax would be one penny on the dollar for all prepared foods purchased within the city.

Council's first official reading will be on April 27 and they're inviting you to come and speak out.

Would you support a one cent tax on prepared foods in the City of Aiken? Tell us here: wrdw.com/polls

News 12 First at Five/Tuesday, March 24, 2015

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- Ashley Diedrich is a USC Aiken student who's spent her fair share of time in some of downtown Aiken's restaurants.

She says talk of a potential hospitality tax might not be so bad.
"I think it could only bring better things to Aiken," Diedrich said. "It'll add things for the community to do."

Council members say it would be one penny on the dollar for all prepared food and drinks.
They're calling it the hospitality tax.

"I would say it's a good cause," Diedrich said. "A penny can make a difference."

Council members would use the money to fix up the city's infrastructure to make Aiken more attractive, as well as bring in more business; something Diedrich says is crucial to small business in Aiken.

"It's extremely important because they only have the people that know about it,"Diedrich said. "And with extra advertisement they could have more people coming through."

The city's accommodation tax is the closest thing to it, but mainly focuses on promoting tourism in Aiken.
Council members say the new hospitality tax could be used the same way, but with fewer limitations.

"It would help a community," Diedrich said. "It would help a community out and it's only a penny."