GRANVILLE — Town Meeting agreed to adopt local taxes on meals and lodging on May 13, but unlike the rest of the articles on the warrant, it wasn’t unanimous.

An extra 0.75% local meals tax passed 28-9. The proposed 6% local lodging tax passed 23-18. In both cases, the local taxes will be added to existing statewide taxes — the state 6.25% meals tax and the state 5.7% hotel room tax. That means diners will pay a combined tax rate of 7%, and lodgers a combined rate of 11.7%.

Both proposals were at the end of the warrant; earlier in the night, during discussions on the town budget and school district budget, there were 55 registered voters at the meeting.

For both new taxes, opponents worried that having to keep track of tax charges and submit payments to Town Hall would prove burdensome to small businesses. Selectboard Chair Nicole Berndt said her board had looked into how the extra taxes would affect lodging and restaurant owners, however, and it’s not much of a change.

“All the establishments in town that are currently collecting meals tax, as far as I know, run point-of-sale systems, so for them it’s a simple entry into their computer program and their computers will automatically collect that additional 0.75 and keep track of it,” Berndt said. “Anything you currently pay meals tax on, this tax applies to.”

The exact same items covered by the state meals tax would be taxed by the local meals tax. All tax money collected by the business would be paid to the state Department of Revenue, just like the state taxes are paid now; DOR would then forward the town’s share of the tax revenues to Granville.

Responding to another question, Berndt said the new 6% lodging tax only affects people renting their properties for “short-term” stays, such as the listings on Airbnb and VRBO, as well as more formal lodgings such as inns and bed-and-breakfasts. It would not affect landlords with long-term residential tenants.

“It’s only people using their homes as hotels,” she said.

It wasn’t clear at Town Meeting whether the lodging tax would extend to campsites, primitive cabins or any other lodgings at a campground. Town Moderator Richard Pierce said since the local lodging tax is an extension of the existing state hotel room tax, presumably property owners already know if they are required to collect it.

Town resident Bob Beckwith said he disagreed with the tax hikes on principle.

“We’re sitting on three-quarters of a million dollars of free cash, and you’re going to tax for a couple grand,” he said. “I’d rather see more savings than I would adding taxes. Less expenditures.”

Replying to Town Administrator Matt Streeter’s response that meals and lodging taxes were a way to raise more tax revenue at a time when there is very little growth in the town’s tax base — with few new houses or commercial properties being built — Beckwith said the town should address “the reasons for no new growth,” which he said are taxes that are too high already, and a town that doesn’t provide services.

The new taxes are effective July 1 of this year.

Town Meeting voters unanimously adopted another tax-related proposal on the warrant, accepting a state law that allows the town to deny certain permits to applicants who are behind on their taxes. Berndt said it wouldn’t apply to minor licenses such as a dog license, but would force businesses and special event planners to catch up on unpaid property taxes.

“This allows us to say, ‘We’ll give you your license, but you have to take care of these things first,’” Berndt said. “We’re not going to issue licenses [that] a lot of times require town resources that that person is not contributing to.”

Berndt said the Selectboard is working on a plan to require people who host large events on their properties to take out a permit, and this law would apply to those permits.

Also at Town Meeting, voters approved a $2.55 million town budget and $2.2 million assessment to the Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School District, along with a $50,000 project to renovate the West Granville Firehouse and $15,000 preservation specialist to develop a plan for the Old Meetinghouse.

mballway@thereminder.com | + posts