Williamston rescinds collection of hospitality tax to help local restaurants

In an effort to help local restaurants get through a slow down in business caused by restrictive guidelines associated with the COVID-19 crisis, Williamston Town Council held an Emergency Meeting last Wednesday to take protective measures to temporarily revoke the town’s two percent hospitality tax.
Williamston Mayor Mack Durham said the “Intent is to give local restaurants some relief from paying the hospitality tax to the Town of Williamston.” The two percent hospitality tax is on prepared food items sold within the town, and brings in approximately $20,000 per month to the town.

Durham said the town is not restricting the restaurants on what to do with the fee, but giving them a break “from paying that expense to the town. It will be up to them to decide about collecting the fee.”

The emergency ordinance was approved on first reading and went into effect immediately, the mayor said.

It will be in effect for 61 days, until April 20th, unless council rescinds it.
Durham said the town normally would receive March hospitality tax payments from local restaurants in April.
“The town will take a hit,” he said. “We are doing whatever we can to support our local restaurants through this crisis,” he said.
The mayor said he didn’t foresee the change affecting any of the town’s festivals, which depend on funding from the hospitality fund to help with expenses.
Durham did say the current situation in preventing the spread of coronavirus may affect two upcoming events, a Hot Air Affair balloon and cancer event scheduled for May 1-3 and the Pig in the Park BBQ festival and cookoff May 15-16.
“We won’t know about our festivals until the state government lifts restrictions,” he said. “Currently the town’s public parks and ball facilities will remain closed until further notice. Right now they are shut down by the state government.”
Local restaurants are continuing to operate, offering pick up and delivery.