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Restaurant owners speak out against proposed restaurant tax in Westmont

WESTMONT – Westmont restaurant owners turned out for a committee of the whole meeting Thursday night, wondering if a proposed 1.5 percent restaurant tax is the village's only option to help fill a $3 million revenue loss.

John Fleming, owner of J. Fleming's Absolutely Delicious, and Mark Link, owner of Uncle Bub's, spoke during public comment at the meeting.

"Is this really the only option?" Fleming asked the Westmont Village Board. "I don't want to scare anyone away from Westmont."

The proposed tax, expected to come to a vote during Monday night's village board meeting, would apply to any eating place in Westmont – dine-in and carry-out, Finance Director Spencer Parker explained Thursday.

"This is food that can be consumed on the premises, regardless of whether or not it is actually consumed on the premises," Parker said. "So going through the drive-thru at McDonald's, for example, because you could eat the food at McDonald's, it would still be subject to the tax."

Village officials say the 1.5 percent tax would bring in $760,000 annually to the village and alleviate an estimated $3 million loss in revenues after residents repealed home rule status in November.

Repealing home rule forced the village to repeal a 2.5 cent-per-gallon gasoline tax and a one-half percent sales tax hike. Both tax hikes were enacted under home rule authority.

Link, who said he opposed the tax, questioned how it would affect his business's catering.

"I also charge for rental equipment, linens, china, delivery and staff," Link said. "Am I getting taxed on that? Do I charge this to the consume? I don't want to do that."

Officials also said any impact of an eating tax may be lessened come July 1, when the village’s half-percent sales tax will be rescinded – moving the sales tax in Westmont from 7.75 percent to 7.25 percent.

Westmont’s administration is recommending a 1.5 percent eating tax, but at least a 1 percent tax.

After discussion, trustees proposed a restaurant tax in the median of those two figures.

If you go

What: Westmont Village Board meeting, potential vote on restaurant sales tax

When: 7 p.m. Monday

Where: Westmont Village Hall, 31 W. Quincy St.

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