"This is a prime example of what our hospitality tax funds could be used for if that ordinance is passed," Ingram said. "We wouldn't have to put requests off until we could search for the money ourselves."
The two projects council was asked to contribute to were additional funding for the 2005 Spring Festival and a fence along Second Street to protect St. David's Church cemetery.
Ingram's remarks stemmed from what has become a heated topic in the town of Cheraw in the past couple weeks - the decision whether or not Cheraw Town Council should implement a 2 percent hospitality tax on all prepared foods and beverages.
The idea of the town passing the tax initially came up at the council's April 13 meeting. At that time, council members voted to let the town's Legislative Committee review the tax idea. Ingram asked committee members to consult with neighboring towns to find out how the tax is working for them and how the additional money is being spent.
While the Legislative Committee has been doing its research, some local restaurant owners in the town of Cheraw have been mounting an attack against the proposed tax. Several of those restaurant owners and managers met with town officials June 29 and made it clear they oppose what they consider solely a "food tax."
Ingram, who was not present at the June 29 meeting, said Tuesday he thought it would be unfair for the small group of restaurant owners to take away money that could be saved by all of the town's taxpayers.
The town estimates a 2 percent hospitality tax would create about $300,000 extra per year for the town. Town officials said all of those funds would be used to attract tourists to the area, who, in turn, will spend money in local restaurants and motels.
The town already collects an additional 3 percent tax from guests staying at local motels. The tax, which is labeled an accommodation tax, is also spent on tourism-related projects.
Tuesday, council voted to approve an additional $3,000 for next year's Spring Festival, as requested by the Cheraw Parks and Recreation Department, but council members had to refer St. David's Cemetery Association's funding request to the Finance Committee.
"If we had our hospitality tax in place, there would be no question whether or not we could help out," Ingram said about finding funds to assist the cemetery association in building a fence. "Those kinds of projects are what the tax is designed for."
For more information, please read the July 8, 2004 edition of the Cheraw Chronicle/Chesterfield Advertiser.