Local meals tax approved in Holyoke

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – The Holyoke City Council Tuesday night voted to implement a meals tax. City Councilors say it’s a way to raise half a million dollars in additional revenue each year.

Jossie Valentin is 1 of 11 city councilors who voted in favor. She said, “It’s not just for the folks that live in the City. It’s also for people who come to the Holyoke Mall and eat the food court.”

Howeevr, City Councilor Linda Vacon disagreed. She said it would burden taxpayers. Vacon and Council President Kevin Jourdain were the only “no” votes.

“Every time we’ve turned around here in the City, we’ve been increasing a fee, property taxes have been going up, so people are starting to get upset,” Vacon said.

Under this ordinance, you’ll pay an additional 7% on your meal when you eat at a Holyoke restaurant; 6.25% for the state sales tax and .75% for the local meals tax. That means if you spend $30 on food, your bill will come out to $32.10. That’s about 23 cents more than what you would have paid without the city meals tax.

According to City Councilor Lisi, “We all eat in neighboring towns that have already adopted meals tax, and we are not even thinking about or conscious of the fact that we are paying this tax. So it really doesn’t hurt the individual user in any shape or form.”

Valentin said, “Yes, it’s a tax. A tax is a tax. But at the same time knowing that all the surrounding cities and towns have it. You go to Northampton, West Springfield, Springfield, places where we eat, it’s something that’s already in place.”

In 2009, the state granted cities and towns the option to implement the additional local meals tax. Now Westfield is the only city near Holyoke that does not charge the city meals tax.

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