Local-option sales tax will strengthen Brattleboro’s financial sustainability

BRATTLEBORO — I have to strongly disagree with Nancy Braus's opinion that adding a penny to the existing sales tax that her customers already pay would be hurtful to Brattleboro.

The data from the 1-percent tax added to meals, rooms, and alcohol, instituted 10 years ago, clearly shows no dip in sales in Brattleboro, and indeed has averaged a 3-to-4-percent rise per year, and a 15-percent rise last year.

These figures show that visitors and residents (since local residents actually do pay the meals and alcohol portions, which is over 80 percent of the collected total) don't mind the added penny, and that they are eating and drinking out even more every year.

Absolutely the same is true for the more modest tax of 7 percent (one more penny on the dollar that shoppers already are used to paying).

There will be no dire consequences for our merchants, because people do not think about a one-penny tax when they go out shopping. Indeed, many out-of-state shoppers pay more for sales tax right where they live in other states.

Locals like me, and many others who shop at Everyone's Books, think about the friendly and knowledgable service they will receive. They think about the good feeling of shopping locally. They value the shopping experience of supporting their neighbors and their community.

Are there some people who shop in New Hampshire (often spending more in gas money in the process, ironically) to save a few dollars on their large purchases? Of course there are, but those people already do that due to the 6-percent-versus-0 difference that already exists. The idea that there are shoppers who are fine with 6 percent, yet will drive to Keene if it goes up to 7 percent, is pretty ridiculous.

This tiny added tax is also not regressive, since, like the existing sales tax, it does not apply to clothing, food, medicine, and many other essentials of basic living.

One thing that Nancy and I definitely agree on is that Brattleboro must take in more revenue to take some burden off of our property taxpayers. I ask that Nancy, and other shopkeepers who are not Brattleboro residents, allow us to make our own decisions about what is best for the town in which we live and vote.

Brattleboro's downtown will remain a strong shopping attraction in southern Vermont, thanks to talented business owners who recognize the importance of collaboration among their small businesses and a welcoming town to live and work.

I urge support for this tiny 1-percent tax option provided to us by the state, which will strengthen Brattleboro's financial sustainability for years into the future.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates