New taxes are always hard to swallow, and the council's proposed 2-percent bed, board and booze tax is no exception.
The new tax, which would decrease Payson's hotel bed tax from 3 percent to 2 percent, while imposing a new 2-percent tax on restaurants and bars, would bring the total tax bite to 10 percent every time you patronize a local restaurant or bar.
There's no doubt the causes for which this money an estimated $450,000 a year would be spent are worthy. The package the council is considering would require that specific percentages of the funds be used for public issues, such as community beautification, programs for Payson youth, tourism, and Main Street redevelopment.
We will all benefit from such projects as a new multi-generational activity center, covering the event center and promoting Payson as a tourist destination. And an extra 50 cents in taxes on a $25 restaurant tab doesn't seem all that steep.
But asking the locals to take on any extra tax burden at this time may not be the best thing for our slowing economy. It certainly isn't a concept that encourages Rim country residents to do their dining and drinking at local establishments.
When Payson Town Councilmember Bryan Siverson explained the new levy to Todd Zelinski, owner of The Small Cafe, he said the burden was put on restaurants and bars because they were "the largest vessel to go out and collect this tax for us." In using that metaphor, Siverson might have been on to more than he realized.
A vessel can only hold so much, and whatever overflows goes right down the drain.
Despite the fact that a night on the town can be considered discretionary, and that taxes on food and beverage purchased in grocery stores remain unchanged, asking local restaurant and bar patrons to carry such a heavy part of the burden may just be enough to make our cup runneth over at a time when excess is not an asset.
While Zelinski and the other owners and operators who are up in arms about the new tax have a vested interest, we think it's an interest we all share.