Saturday, February 24, 2024

Governor’s recommendation eliminates groceries from sales tax bill

Gov. Northam's amendment to Sen. Norment's sales tax bill eliminates groceries from being taxed. (Photo courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg.)
Gov. Northam’s amendment to Sen. Norment’s sales tax bill eliminates
groceries from being taxed. (Photo courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg.)

Gov. Ralph Northam won’t subject groceries to the proposed sales tax bill, according to his recommendation to the Senate.

The bill submitted by Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City County, will raise the sales tax in the City of Williamsburg, and James City and York counties by 1 percentage point.

The original proposal would’ve also subjected groceries and food for “human consumption” to the sales tax increase. Northam’s recommendation also proposes maintaining the $2 transient occupancy tax, which would’ve been eliminated in Norment’s proposal.

If Northam’s recommendation is approved by the Senate, it will eliminate the tax collected for nightly stays in hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts in Greater Williamsburg.

The City of Williamsburg would also need to roll back its tourism tax increase on meals, lodging, and admission tickets. The Williamsburg tax was passed last year, with the expectation that it will take effect on July 1, 2018, if it is not repealed.

If the bill becomes law, it could mean $2.2 million of new revenue for the city. But that is based on groceries being taxable items. The governor’s message did not include revised accounting, and calls to his office were not immediately returned.

Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance president Karen Riordan has said the added revenue could serve as a funding mechanism for the area and produce funds to build a sports facility and a performing arts center.

In James City County, interim county administrator Bill Porter’s proposed budget includes a two-cent real estate tax reduction for county citizens, if the proposed sales tax bill becomes law.

If passed the bill would generate $5.5 million worth of revenue for James City County, Porter said during his budget proposal press conference earlier this month. That, too, was based on the bill as written, which included groceries.

Half of the revenue from the increase would be directed toward marketing the Historic Triangle through the The Tourism Council of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber and Tourism Alliance, while the other half of the revenue would be given directly back to the localities the tax was collected from.

Troy Jefferson
Troy Jefferson
Troy Jefferson is the city of Williamsburg and James City County reporter for the WYDaily. Jefferson graduated from Michigan State University and the University of Maryland. When he is not writing stories, he enjoys romantic comedies.

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