In the tourism biz, they call it a "bed, board and booze" or a "BBB" tax. But when the restaurant folks got wind of what the Payson Town Council wanted to do, they responded with an 8-letter "B" word of their own. Roughly translated it means, "We really don't think so."
For those of you who, like the restaurant owners and managers, are just too darned busy to stay informed, what the town council proposed was dropping the tax on hotel rooms from 3 percent to 2 percent and adding a new 2 percent tax to restaurant and bar tabs. Had it been approved, the total tax bite when you go out for a bite would have climbed to 10 percent and the town would have pulled in roughly $450,000 a year.
While the money would be used for some worthy causes, including tourism promotion, the board and booze folks figured the locals would end up paying most of it, and that would mean less business for them.
As a result, they organized and fought back in a number of ways, including petitions, newspaper ads and showdowns at the OK council meetings. And they won: after a strenuous lobbying effort, the BBB tax was shot down 7-0 at the March 9 council meeting.
As board and booze patrons come up from under the tables whence they dove, I would like to suggest a kinder, gentler solution that will give the town its money, while once and for all taking the onus off you and me and the restaurant biz people.
Before we go there, however, I have to tell you about a thought that emerged from the ever-fertile mind of Councilmember Ken Murphy. At the council meeting where the BBB tax was first proposed, Murph wondered if there was any way to charge out-of-towners the full 10 percent, but not locals.
Then he made a joke about how we'd have to implant chips in everybody's neck so we could tell locals and tourists apart. He made a joke about it again at a recent meeting of restaurateurs at The Small Cafe.
Now here's the deal. Instead of a BBB tax, we propose a combination of any of the following taxes, some of which might require mass implantation of the infamous Murphy Chip:
BORING BOARDS TAX
Also known as the BBT (to distinguish it from a BBB or a BLT), this levy would kick in every time school board or town council members allowed their meetings to run longer than one hour. Calculated by the minute, it would cause those bodies to spend a lot less time on things like what to charge the Zane Grey Twirlers for the use of school facilities.
ZANE GREY TWIRLERS TAX
As a backup safeguard against long board of education meetings, we could institute a tax on square dancing that is levied on a per do-si-do basis. Now swing that partner.
This tax would be assessed against users of shopping carts for infractions like blocking the aisles of our local supermarkets by turning carts sideways, parking carts side-by-side when stopping to chat with an acquaintance, and pushing carts right down the middle of the aisle. Also taxed under this measure would be those who do not return their shopping carts to the designated area in the parking lot.
TV COMMERCIAL CRAP TAX
This is a tax on bad taste levied against those terrible local TV commercials that air on cable channels. They set television back to those thrilling days of yesteryear when The Loan Arranger rode the airwaves of the Valley. Get a new production company.
COUNTRY WESTERN TYRANNY TAX
While we're on the subject of bad taste, every time the folks over on the world's slowest parkway spin one of those Nashville nemeses, the tax meter should also start spinning. It's not that we don't believe people should be able to listen to whatever they want, it's just that dominating the one and only airwave in the Rim country with this stuff is a form of tyranny that somebody needs to be held accountable for.
UNINFORMED RESTAURANT OWNERS TAX
There's more than one way to skin a cat or tax restaurants. Their excuse, that they are just too busy running their establishments to stay informed, is pretty lame. These folks need to subscribe to the Roundup, and then at least skim the stories on the front page. Murph was right when he said citizens in a democracy have an obligation to stay informed.
We can end this taxing situation once and for all by making it mandatory that when the members of any legislative body pass a tax, they automatically pay twice the amount themselves.
PAYSON CONCRETE & MATERIALS CAP TAX
Talk about taxing a discretionary item, those lovable green, yellow and white caps that almost anyone whose anyone in the Rim country wears around the clock would be a veritable financial bonanza. I figure this would work best as an hourly tax. Those who want to see their tax bill go down for a change can save by not sleeping in their caps anymore.
This is a tax on anybody who uses the term "multi-generational" in talking about the proposed Payson Community Center. As Mayor Ray Schum is fond of saying, "Let's not kill this project with a name."
The perfect tax is the one that doesn't apply to you and me, so we simply tax everybody who comes to the Rim country and goes home like campers, tourists, passersby, delivery truck drivers and other assorted visitors of all persuasions. It would be cool and also a reflection of our cowboy heritage to put a big barbed wire fence all around the Rim country. Then we can close the gate when people come in, and charge them an arm and a leg to get back out. And if they decide to stay instead, The Loan Arranger will surely hunt them down like dogs, round them up and sell them really junky used cars.