Merrillville seeks food and beverage tax
The town of Merrillville may be enacting a 1% food and beverage tax to help pay for an expansion of a community center, but it needs state lawmakers to approve the tax. Our partners at The Times of Northwest Indiana report the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee voted 12-0 in favor of legislation authorizing the town council to enact a food and beverage tax.
Town officials want to construct at 18,000-square-foot expansion to the 84,000-square-foot Dean and Barbara White Community Center. Supporters of the tax say growing the facility will allow it to add more basketball and volleyball courts to host tournaments and other sporting events.
“We’ve already outgrown the facility, and we’re turning down certain events because we just don’t have an ample number of courts,” said Town Council President Rick Bella.
Bella said the projected cost of the expansion is $6 million to $8 million because the footings for the expansion were put in place at the same time as construction on the original building, which opened two years ago.
The publication says town leaders presented state senators numerous letters of support from Merrillville restaurant operators who said they expect the community center expansion will bring additional patrons to local dining establishments, while the food and beverage tax will not harm their businesses.
Bella says a 1% tax would raise an estimated $1.3 million a year, covering the cost of expanding the community center in just a few years. If the tax remained in effect, it could help pay for other park or tourism-related projects.
“Who knows what the needs might be six years from now?” Bella said. “We’re really kind of thinking ahead. We’re really trying to stay ahead of things instead of scrambling to keep up, so to speak.”
Having passed out of committee, Senate Bill 428 next goes to the full Senate for a decision. It is then onto the House for its consideration.
Click here to access the full report from Dan Carden and The Times of Northwest Indiana.