Students’ Association ready to battle Third B tax

Heather Mangan

Heather Mangan

The Third B tax was an issue that the Students’ Association (SA) supported, but now they are doing whatever they can to stop it from taking effect.

The SA is working with other campus and community organizations to gain 549 signatures of registered Brookings voters on a petition that would refer the Third B Tax to a vote. As of Monday evening, they still needed to gather 500 signatures.

On Feb. 4, the Brookings City Council passed the Third B tax to take effect July 1. The tax is an extra penny on lodging, alcohol and prepared food. The money from the tax is used to promote the city to tourists following certain state law demands.

The SA is involved with this issue because it directly affects SDSU students, SA President Amanda Mattingly said. Students who live on-campus are required to pay the tax because they buy mandatory meal plans that are primarily prepared food.

SA senator Ryan Brunner said that members of the SA had met with the Brookings City Council several times to discuss ways in which students would be involved in the tax, due to the fact that many students are required to pay the tax with their meal plans.

Brunner said that students should receive some type of benefit from this tax because they have no choice to buy a meal plan, whereas students living off-campus and members of the community can choose to eat out.

Mattingly said they were under the impression that $35,000 was going to be given back to the students and put towards a promotional event, such as a concert.

“From my understanding, this was the plan all along; to give the money back to students,” she said.

However, Brookings Mayor Scott Munsterman said the students misunderstood. The council felt it was important to have students as a part of the planning process on how the money would be spent, not to give them a portion of the funds.

“What I have sensed is that some of the council members were concerned to write a check to the student body,” he said.

Mattingly said she was first told that the university wouldn’t be receiving the $35,000 during a conversation with Munsterman on Feb. 15, nine days before the deadline to submit a petition to refer the subject.

“If they told us from the beginning that there is a chance that we couldn’t get this money then we would have felt differently,” Mattingly said. “If we had any feeling that it wasn’t going to go through, then we would have been out there getting it referred a long time ago.”

The SA decided to take action against the tax and has been collecting signatures for the petition. They have set up tables at sporting and theater events and have received special permission to go to door to door in the residence halls.

Brunner said several students plan to attend Tuesday’s city council meeting and that will be a factor in determining whether or not they actually submit the petition. He said that it comes down to what is best for the students.

“I think the students need to be represented and it is our job to look out for the students and I hope the city understands that,” he said.

Munsterman said that if the students do go through with the referral, it could have a lasting effect on their relationship.

“I felt like we had a good working relationship, until this,” he said. “It may be hard for the council to get past this, for a long time. It’s going to be hard to want to do things for them.”