Since York County began collecting its hospitality tax in 2007, a challenge has been making sure the correct restaurants are paying the right amount.
“We think we’re finally, maybe, where we need to be,” said Beth Latham, county treasurer and finance director.
At issue is how restaurants in unincorporated areas are notified of the two-cent tax they must charge. There’s constant turnover, the biggest and most recent being the $40,000 per year from food sold at Knights Stadium, lost when the Charlotte Knights moved out of Fort Mill.
The county also has had no easy way to identify new restaurants.
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“We can be more current with getting our restaurants on board,” Latham said.
The county is partnering with the state Department of Health and Environmental Control to identify restaurants that open or close, with the county planning and finance departments coordinating. The finance department is getting a better handle on the 178 establishments paying the tax, and how much each should pay.
By Christmas, the county expects to be requiring state Department of Revenue statements from restaurants to verify those amounts.
The county already has a handle on how much has been collected and where it has gone. Since 2007, the county brought in $12.16 million. The county approved spending $7.98 million of that total so far.
Also since that time, half of the hospitality tax money – more than $6 million – has been collected in County Council District 1, which includes Tega Cay and part of Fort Mill. But only 1.4 percent – about $110,000 – has been spent on five projects there.
The second largest percentage of hospitality tax money – 22.9 percent, or almost $2.8 million – has been collected in County Council District 2, which includes Lake Wylie and Clover. But only 5.6 percent – $448,000 – has been spent there. Most of that, about $300,000, helped the town of Clover pay for its new Centre Park, and just more than $120,000 went to the Lake Wylie Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.
Meanwhile, only 2.2 percent of the hospitality tax money – about $273,000 – has been collected in County Council District 5, which covers much of the southeastern corner of the county, including parts of southern Fort Mill and eastern Rock Hill. But almost 12 percent – about $943,000 – has been spent on 10 projects there.