New Taxes and Fees

By: Amy Gleason
By: Amy Gleason

The city is proposing a 50-cent tax on cigarettes, a $2 increase for trash pick-up, a three-percent increase for water customers and a one percent increase in the meals tax. That will give the city a grand total of about $3-million in revenue.

"The tax in Albany is 8.5-percent on everything, except clothes," said Tammy Kuzman, Harrisonburg Resident. "So I'm used to high taxes. But I never realized the food tax was so high."

Kuzman is surprised by how much money is added on to her food in Harrisonburg. And soon, it could be even more.

An average dinner at Bravo's Italian Eatery costs around $12. If you leave the customary 15-percent tip, and if the meals tax goes up to 10.5-percent, tip and taxes will be more than quarter of your total bill.

"I don't expect an immediate difference in terms of the business that we and other restaurants will expect to have, however, it's a concern of what kind of trend it sets," said Evan Livick, Bravo Italian Eatery Manager. He doesn't think it will deter customers from coming in, he agrees with Kuzman, it's getting up there.

"This is a pretty high amount for any town, but especially a small city like Harrisonburg," added Livick.

But the small city of Harrisonburg has growing needs.

"The hope is we'll raise enough money to meet the city's needs, without necessarily inconveniencing people more than we have to," Mayor Joe Fitzgerald, Harrisonburg. Fitzgerald says figuring out how much tax is too much is a guessing game.

For Kuzman, that game may be over.

"I guess I'm going to reconsider going out to dinner so much, because with higher taxes, I really can't afford it," said Kuzman.

There will be a public hearing on Harrisburg's new budget at its April 22 meeting.

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