It was hard for many to swallow but Roanoke's meals tax increase continues to exceed expectations. City Council raised the meals tax by 2% a year ago to fund education.
The city released the latest numbers Monday. Dubbed the Eat for Education campagin, the 2% meals hike raised $3,782,096 in the first ten months, 4.5% more than what was projected.
We asked diners whether they notice the tax increase.
Aisha Childress told News 7 "2% doesn't seem like a large increase. I think it's going to a good purpose. It's going towards education.
Erika Hoffman told News 7 "I've noticed the total is a little bit more but not enough to make a huge difference for me."
Alan Frind told News 7 "Oh I noticed it. It's just more and more money coming out of your pocket."
Many restaurants feared the tax increased would keep customers away including the owner of Texas Tavern. We asked Matt Bullington how the tax hike has impacted business.
Bullington told News 7 "I can tell you, it hasn't helped. However, to stand her and tell you absolutely it's negatively effecting me, it wouldn't be truthful."
Bullington says the tax increase has forced him not to pass on higher costs to customers. He points out the cost of food has skyrocketed in the past year.
Roanoke City Council members acknowledge the increase is tough on area restaurants. The meals tax hike is set to end a year from now. The tax increase was only for two years and automatically expires. With projections exceeding expectations, some may wonder will city council vote to extend the meals tax increase.
David Bowers, Roanoke's Mayor, told News 7 "we told people it's going to be two years. I think we ought to keep our promise, a deal is a deal."
Councilmember Sherman Lea told News 7 "there will be some discussion down the line but right now there's a sunset rule and I don't want to back track on what we promised the business community."
Councilmember Anita Price told News 7 "we need to hear from citizens, is it something that they are willing to support? is it something that they want continued? If that's the case then perhaps it could be revisited."
The meals tax increase is expected to generate more than $8,000,000 for the school system in two years. Superintendent Rita Bishop says it has already paid to expand summer school and to fund a summer reading camp for students in K-2. 400 kids have already signed up.
Superintendent Bishop realizes the revenue from the meals tax increase won't be around forever. Bishop told News 7 "I'm really scared for 12-13 (school year), I really am but we're going to do our best to keep as far away from children as we can and that's our plan right now."