Half of H-Tax Unpaid

RIDGEWAY (Jan. 15, 2016) – Owners of a pair of Ridgeway business could be on the hook for fines or even jail time for not kicking in their share of the Town’s hospitality tax, according to documents obtained from Town Hall this week.

The issue came to light at Town Council’s Jan. 7 work session as Mayor Charlene Herring suggested revisiting the ordinance to ensure it was clear on the payment schedule and that it included penalties.

“Some people were given the option to pay once a year, some people were given the option to pay every three months, some were given the option to may once a month,” Herring said.

But Herring was reminded by the Town Clerk that those options were only part of Council’s initial discussions of the tax. The ordinance, which passed second reading last May and went into effect on Aug. 1, clearly states that the tax (2 percent on the sale of prepared meals and beverages) is due once a month, no later than the 20th day of the month.

Of the Town’s four establishments subject to the tax, only two – the Old Town Hall Restaurant and City Gas – have made their monthly contributions. The Tea Room and the Ridgeway Station Café have made no payments.

In 2015, the Town took in a little more than $2,559 in hospitality taxes from the two businesses making their payments.

Town Clerk Vivian Case told Herring during the Jan. 7 meeting that the Town had sent out late notices to the Tea Room and the Station Café, but had received no response.

According to the ordinance, hospitality taxes not paid on time “shall be subject to a penalty of five percent of the sum owed for each month or portion thereof until paid.”

Failure to pay the tax, the ordinance states, “shall constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $500 or imprisonment for up to 30 days, or both.”

Council is expected to revisit the issue during their Jan. 14 regular meeting.