Local restaurants upset with lack of plan for "Penny" tax budget

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Monday, June 22, 2015
AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW)-- Three weeks after Aiken City Council put the hospitality or "penny" tax into effect, questions still remain.

Betsy Simons, the owner of Betsy's On The Corner in Aiken, is concerned that city council still has not made any announcements as to where the money will go.

"Still it went into effect June the first so we are three weeks into having the tax and we still aren't sure what the tax is being used for," said Simons.

Simons says that even though there have been rumors as to where the money is going, she still has no idea where the money is going.

"I'm not 100 percent sure where its going because we really don't know where it's going," said Simons.

Jessica Busch is a server at the Pizza Joint in Aiken and says that customers are not the only ones frustrated with the tax as it affects everyone in the restaurant business.

"You have people in here that are going to be confused as to why our prices are rising and if we don't know what's going on then how are we supposed to explain it to our customers," said Busch.

A new parking garage is one of the items on the list for City Council to prioritize the tax money towards. The parking garage would go next to the Hotel Aiken, which is being changed into a Marriott. Also on the list are waste control, irrigation and utility costs at parks among others. Simons says she just wants answers at this point and that a parking garage would be welcomed.

"I am fine with a parking garage," said Simons, "I think that's one of the things that downtown Aiken could use. I've been an advocate for a parking garage in years past."

Aiken City Council is placing priorities on the projects at 6 O'Clock tonight in a work session before the regular city council meeting at 7 O'Clock.