Leader Blues

Saturday, December 29, 2007

TOP STORY >>Burger tax is bringing in revenue

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Since Jacksonville has started to collect the 2-cent hamburger tax in October, the levy has added more than $60,000 to the coffers of the city’s promotion and advertising commission.

When the council approved the 2-cent tax on prepared foods, it was with the hopes that it would generate close to $550,000 a year for the commission to use to generate publicity, activities and tourism for Jacksonville. As part of the ordinance creating the tax, half the collected amount goes to the parks and recreation department.

At the Jacksonville Advertising and Promotion Commission meeting in December, the city’s Finance Director, Paul Mushrush, pointed out that 64 businesses turned in $56,728 worth of tax on taxable receipts of $2.9 million so far this year.

“That’s not quite two months worth of collections,” explained Mushrush.

Based on the amount of prepared food tax paid so far, Chili’s is the busiest restaurant in Jacksonville, bringing in more than $345,000 in taxable business and paying almost $7,000 in taxes. Second is McDonald’s #11417 with $217,000 of taxable income and paying taxes of $4,262. However, if all three McDonald’s are combined, it becomes the number one restaurant in the city with taxable receipts of about $400,000 and prepared food taxes of about $8,000.

Based on tax receipts, the top five grossing individual restaurants in Jacksonville are Chili’s, McDonald’s #11417, Western Sizzlin, Wendy’s and McDonald’s #1803.

At the meeting, the commission agreed to back Reed’s Bridge Battlefield Preservation Society’s effort to obtain a $5,000 matching grant from the Department of Arkansas Heritage to improve McCraw Cemetery. To get the grant, the society has to show the state that it has $5,000 to match the grant. The commission voted to put up the money for the grant.

Two other requests for funding were tabled until February. They included another $7,000 request from the Reed’s Bridge group to develop educational brochures about the history of Military Road, Reed’s Bridge battlefield and Indian removal in the area.

Angie Mitchell had asked the commission for $22,000 to help fund the annual Patriotic Spectacular. The commission has partially funded the annual liberty-themed event, held the first week of July, in the past. The commission did not budget any funds for the event in its 2008 budget.