Monroe County food and beverage tax: $6M in 23 months so far

Monroe County’s food and beverage tax advisory commission (FBTAC) convened its first meeting of the year on Tuesday afternoon.

Based on the numbers provided to commissioners, a smidgen over $6 million is the cumulative total that’s been generated by the 1-percent tax in the 23 months since it’s been collected.

At Tuesday’s meeting, officers for the year were selected, and revenue numbers were reviewed. Commissioners also set up their next meeting, on Feb. 10, when they’ll go over an annual report for last year.

The report from the commission is owed to the county council sometime in February, under the 2017 ordinance that was enacted establishing the 1-percent tax. This year’s FBTAC chair, city councilmember Steve Volan, is supposed to collate the city’s part of the information, working with city controller, Jeff Underwood.

Bloomington’s share of the food and beverage tax, 90 percent of the countywide total, will fund the $44-million convention center expansion. Monroe County’s share of the tax is planned to support a limestone heritage destination site, pursuant to the part of the statute that mentions tourism and economic development related to the convention center.

In 2019, the tax generated $3.45 million countywide. Since it was first collected, in February 2018, the tax has generated just over $6 million.

Some trends are starting to settle in as merchant compliance is getting more uniform and routine. In 2018, after the initial couple of months, the average number of payers of the tax was 293. In 2019, the average number of monthly payers was 331.

Some merchants pay quarterly, but Monroe County auditor Cathy Smith said it’s not so many that it has an impact on visible trends.

After the meeting, Underwood told The Square Beacon that the monthly totals reflect payments made to the state the previous month, which in turn reflect sales made a month earlier than that. That means reported figures for a given month correspond to sales made two months before.

For example, the provision figure for December 2019 is $321,528. That corresponds to sales in October, Underwood said.

Munson selection as vice chair of the FBTAC was contingent on her selection as the council’s representative to the FBTAC at the county council’s first meeting of the year, scheduled a couple hours later. At the county council’s meeting, her six colleagues appointed Munson to represent them on the FBTAC.

The FBTAC consists of seven members, four of whom are elected officials, two each from Bloomington and Monroe County. County officials are: the president of the board of commissioners; and a representative from the county council.  City officials are the mayor and a member of the city council.

The remaining three members of the commission have to be merchants who are subject to the tax. The three merchants are: Lennie Busch (One World Enterprises), Tony Suttile, (Fourwinds Lakeside Inn & Marina), and Susan Bright (Nick’s).

Volan wrapped up the quick 15-minute meeting on Tuesday by saying, “Happy New Year, Happy New Decade, good luck to us all!”

Year-over-year food and beverage tax revenues by month.
R Bar Chart of Food & Beverage Tax Nov 2019
Food and beverage tax proceeds broken down by city and county shares.