|Updated: 12/19/2011 11:08 pm
||Published: 12/19/2011 11:02 pm
BENTON, AR – If you want to have a bottle of beer or a glass of wine at a Benton restaurant, it will soon cost you even more.
There are only a handful of businesses that sell alcohol in the in dry Saline County. Despite the pleas of one Benton restraunt owner, the city council voted Monday to approve the additional 5% tax on alcohol sales within the city.
“It’s just really struggling right now,” says Tommy Denton, owner of a private club in Benton. “Why don’t we tax cigarettes 5%? It’s a really tough time right now.”
A tough time for restaurants, but also for the City of Benton, which hopes to use proceeds from the new tax to fix drainage issues. Bryant has a similar alcohol tax increase under consideration to buy now police cars. Restaurant owners there are also upset about the tax increases.
“What’s the next tax the mayor is going to suggest? Is it the fat tax? The grocery tax? Is it the real estate tax? We’re already in the red, where else is that money going to come from,” said Hamid Pezeshk, Luigi’s owner.
Only one Benton Councilmember voted against the tax, slated to begin on February 1st. Bryant will most likely consider their alcohol tax increase on December 29th.
Also at the city council meeting Monday, City of Benton employees received a 2% raise. The council also approved an 8% increase in Mayor David Mattingly’s salary, which he declined. The intent of the pay increase was to make the position more attractive for future candidates.
“In light of the many financial issues we face, I don’t feel it is appropriate for me to accept an increase in pay even though I totally support and agree with why it is being done,” said Mattingly.