Sevierville officials wrong to raise taxes on businesses

May. 24, 2013 @ 11:33 PM


Shame on our newly elected Sevierville city officials: Jim McGill, Robbie Fox and Mayor Bryan Atchley.

After being sworn in on Monday night, the first official act of our newly elected officials was to vote yes on the second reading for a 2 percent increase of the Restaurant and Entertainment Tax.

What I heard during the public discussion portion of that meeting was that the city has a budget crunch. It sounded like a good portion of the problem rests with the deficits that the golf course is incurring. Although those losses are less each year, they still amount to about $900,000.

BOMA’s idea is to pour more money into marketing to attract more tourists who will play golf at the Sevierville course. This additional money would come from higher taxes on restaurant food and entertainment tickets. BOMA plans to allocate 88 percent of the new taxes to the marketing program.

But, can we expect tourists to keep coming back to Sevierville if we keep raising prices? Not only will tourists pay those higher taxes, all of us citizens will, too.

I believe that if there is a budget shortfall, the solution should be cut the budget – not increase taxes. From the discussion Monday evening, it sounded like we only have two choices: (1) triple what we pay in property taxes; or (2) increase the restaurant food and entertainment tax by 2 percent.

Again, I say shame on our newly elected officials. These men campaigned on platforms to do what was best for Sevierville. Have they forgotten we are still in a recession? Now is not the time to raise anyone’s taxes.

The tourists come here for a good value and exceptional experience. Citizens choose to live here for quality of life, cost of living, and many more reasons. How about trying a little harder to solve this budget problem by means other than raising taxes?

I don’t understand why there is such a rush on this issue. Give these new officials time to digest the budget and consider all options or come up with new ideas. Maybe more thought should be given to whether it’s a good idea to continue to support the struggling golf course.

All businesses have tough choices to make these days. And pouring good money after bad is never a good idea – especially if it’s money you don’t have.

Can we truly expect additional marketing to generate enough tourists who will want to play golf at the Sevierville course to enable that course to be profitable? And, when and if the course becomes profitable, shouldn’t there be a stipulation that this additional tax be rescinded?

I challenge those new BOMA members to consider alternative options and truly do what’s best for Sevierville – as they promised they would.

Pat Guerin