Vigo food and beverage tax clears Indiana House

During today's special session of the Indiana General Assembly, the Indiana House and Senate have passed House Bill 1242, which authorizes a Vigo County food and beverage tax that would be used for construction and maintenance of a downtown Terre Haute convention center.

The bill allows Vigo County to impose up to a 1 percent food and beverage tax. The tax applies to restaurant meals, specifically "food or beverage for consumption at a location or on equipment provided by a retail merchant."

The tax would raise an estimated $1.2 million to $2.1 million annually.

The bill provides that the tax rate may not exceed 1 percent, and it specifies that the revenue from the tax shall be distributed to the capital improvement board and may be used by the board only for the acquisition, construction, improvement, maintenance, or financing of the following: (1) a convention center, 2) a facility that is used or will be used principally for convention or tourism-related events or the arts (3) way-finding improvements.

Construction or improvements would have to be made after June 30, 2018.

Funds raised must be used to pay the principal and interest on bonds issued to finance one of these projects, and the tax expires Dec.31, 2043, according to the bill.

Rachel Leslie of RJL Solutions is at the Statehouse today representing Vigo County commissioners, who also are in Indianapolis. Mayor Duke Bennett is attending, too.

A bill allowing Vigo County to adopt a food and beverage tax failed to pass the Legislature during the regular 2018 session of the General Assembly.

House Bill 1242 deals with several other items related to state and local administration; the Legislature is considering five bills in the special session.

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