MONTPELIER — Try to find a business owner who supports implementing a local sales tax in Montpelier; it’s not easy.
The only retailer who seemed to come out in favor of the local sales tax was Knayte Lander, manager at Buch Spieler Music on Langdon Street.
“I don’t think an increase from 6 (percent) to 7 percent is going to drive people away,” he said.
If someone buys a CD for $6, Lander asked, does it matter if they pay 36 cents or 42 cents in sales tax?
Ultimately, that’s the question for Montpelier voters on March 6 on Town Meeting Day: Shall voters agree to implement two local option taxes by approving two separate ballot items.
One ballot item is a local sales tax of 1 percent added to all retail sales. That’s in addition to the Vermont state sales tax of 6 percent.
The other ballot item is to create a 1 percent tax on rooms, meals and alcohol. Vermont currently has a state tax on rooms and meals of 9 percent; and on alcohol, it’s 10 percent.
“I’m against the idea of making property taxes higher,” Lander said.
That’s the rationale behind the local option sales tax, spearheaded by outgoing Montpelier Mayor Mary Hooper.
Her argument has been that it’s unfair to keep taxing Montpelier property owners with ever-increasing property taxes, while the thousands of people who eat, shop and drink in Montpelier every day — but don’t live here — and, thus, don’t pay anything toward the police, fire and other city services.
Lander clearly is the minority of business professionals who support the 1 percent local sales tax.
Up and down Montpelier’s streets on Monday, the drumbeat was the same.