Durham Committee gives thumbs down to prepared foods tax | Durham County | Indy Week

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Durham Committee gives thumbs down to prepared foods tax

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The Durham Committee On the Affairs of Black People (DCABP) this morning voted not to endorse the proposed 1 percent sales tax on prepared foods. The move came at the end of a four-hour meeting during which committee members decided the organization’s endorsement of this election’s slate of candidates.

After impassioned presentations from advocates for and against, the organization’s political subcommittee voted overwhelmingly to oppose the meals tax, says Chairwoman Lavonia Allison. The subcommittee’s decision was then put before the entire group, which affirmed the vote.

“The Committee has always been against regressive taxes,” Allison said. “At a time when the Durham police and fire departments need pay increases…the timing for of this just does not make sense.”

Durham voters will decide this election whether to approve the tax. If passed, the tax would generate an estimated $5 million annually. The money would go to cultural amenities such as an expansion of the Hayti Heritage Center; a Parrish Street museum commemorating “Black Wall Street”; open spaces and trails; city beautification; and workforce development for the hospitality industry.

Tax proponents say that without the levy, the city would have to further raise property taxes—already a likelihood—to pay for needed upgrades, renovations and new projects related to Durham’s quality of life.

The DCABP is the only of Durham’s three influential political action committees to come out against the tax. Late last month, the more progressive People’s Alliance moved to support it, while the conservative Friends of Durham has yet to announce a position.

At a press conference held earlier this month, Allison, joined by Durham Citizens Against the Food Tax, a conservative group backed by the Washington, D.C.-based Americans for Prosperity, announced that she would personally oppose against the ballot referendum, but there had been some speculation as to whether the committee would follow suit.

Asked if the DCABP would now work with other groups to actively oppose the tax, Allison declined to say, instead focusing on the necessity of defeating the ballot initiative itself.

“It’s about the priorities,” she says. “There are things that are important, cultural amenities are important, but now is not the time to make them priorities.”

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