Batesburg-Leesville adopts Hospitality Tax to help make town more enticing to guests, comfortable fo
Batesburg-Leesville, SC (Angelica Iglesias) – Batesburg-Leesville is initiating a hospitality tax (H-Tax) that will go into effect January 1, 2019. The tax, passed by the town council as an ordinance in September, will add two cents to every one dollar of prepared foods and beverages cost. It will be paid by people who go out to eat regularly or buy food like the already fried chicken at the grocery store or take-out and drive-thru meals. If you don’t eat out much, and do much of your cooking at home, you may not even notice this small tax increase at all. H-Taxes are meant to impact tourists of an area and people visiting more than the actual residents. It’s important to realize that H-Taxes are added to all prepared food and drinks. This means the hot dog at a convenience store or gas station and the sandwiches you buy from the Wal-Mart deli counter aren’t exempt either. Even the Big-Gulp fountain beverage or Slurpee you buy at a convenience store will be taxed. It’s ALL included.
As much as everyone hates a tax, this one has some real upsides too. The money brought in from H-Taxes must be used by the taxing entity to make the area nicer. It’s nicer for visitors, so more come to town and spend in the restaurants, stores, and bars. The real upside is that all the improvements to the town benefit the people who spend the most time there, the residents. It can be used on sidewalks, parks, children’s play areas, and more. Lexington is using there’s to make some important changes to the traffic plan so driving through town is faster and not such a pain! You can plant flowers, provide benches for people to sit on, and even changes the stop lights from old wooden poles with a tangle of wires to decorative ones made of cast iron that give the community charm and grace. If a lot of visitors from out of town visit and eat or drink while they’re in town, they are paying for sprucing up the town for the people who call it home.
According to Mayor Lancer Shull, the implementation of an H-Tax has never been done in Batesburg-Leesville before. However, many other municipalities around the town and across Lexington County have a similar tax. Batesburg-Leesville Town Council came up with the idea approximately four years ago, so Mayor Shull is excited to be a part of finally turning it into reality.
The tax is estimated to bring in between $400,000 and $450,000 per year for the town. This money will stay in Batesburg-Leesville and have its own account and its own budget. Town Council added in the ordinance that the money will specifically go towards the beautification of both Batesburg and Leesville business districts, renovating Haynes Auditorium, maintenance to both parks in the town, and more community events that would join the already popular Poultry Festival and other functions. Imagine those bus loads of people who flock to just Shealy’s BBQ to eat, paying a few cents more per dollar for their meals. Upgrades to the older parts of the town, a bench to sit on when they’re out strolling off that last drumstick, or a nice streetlight to make them feel safe window shopping, just might entice them to stay and spend a little more in a boutique, at the jewelers, or the antique shop off Railroad Avenue.
“I can see a very clear vision on where we can take the town if we have some financial backing and funding underneath our ideas,” Mayor Shull said. Once the H-Tax goes into effect, the money should reach the town’s special account very quickly. The town’s leaders are already in the process of getting their ideas together which they will then prioritize. Once the money is in the bank, you should start noticing positive changes around town real soon.