Some Tennessee lawmakers say higher taxes could be the key to attracting more conventions to Nashville. While it may sound like just opposite of what a city should do, they say how that money is spent will make all the difference.
The tax increase would be on goods and services bought in Nashville's tourist development zone and the business improvement districts - the areas inside the Interstate 440 loop and The Gulch - and that money would then be used to lure more conventions to the new Music City Center.
People could see new taxes on things like food, drinks, short term parking, event tickets and retail sales. But the tax increase would not affect professional services, hotels, sporting events or overnight and monthly parking.
As for cost, the increase would be a quarter of 1 percent. So, think of it as about an extra penny on every beer you buy in a downtown honky tonk.
The money would then be used to offer incentives to groups that potentially want to hold their convention at the Music City Center.
Of course, some people oppose raising taxes - even by a small amount - but supporters of the proposed increase say it's designed to target tourists, not locals, and say even if locals do end up having to pay, the costs far outweigh the benefits.
"More conventions, more jobs, more tax revenue for the city that helps keep property taxes and other sales taxes lower," said Butch Spyridon, with the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Some bar owners have already come forward and said they would gladly eat the cost of the new tax instead of passing it on to their patrons because more conventions at the Music City Center means more tourists and more money for them.
The bill that would impose the new tax passed Tuesday in the State and Local Committee and heads to the Finance Ways and Means Subcommittee next week.
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