Third B Tax has potential benefits

Crystal Hohenthaner

Crystal Hohenthaner

The Third B tax is a penny tax on all prepared foods. The tax would include meal plans on campus, which means all on-campus students who are required to purchase a meal plan would have to pay the tax, said senior Molly Lefholz.

“Tax the rich,” demands a bumper sticker adorning Lefholz’s car. Lefholz in accord with her bumper sticker, does not support the passing of the Third B tax, a decision currently before the Brookings city council.

Lefholz, a Rapid City native, also does not see that this particular tax benefits Brookings in the same way that it has benefitted Rapid City and other South Dakota towns which have implemented this tax.

Senior Seth Mendell wants to know why and what the tax is for.

SA Vice-President Betsy Suter said the tax is designed for promotions. Suter, although initially opposed to the tax, said all cities around Brookings have it. She now supports the tax conditionally. This condition is contained in a resolution the SA presented to the council.This resolution proposes the idea that all money that this tax generates directly from the University be sent back to the university to be used for SDSU’s promotional purposes.

Mendell and Lefholz both expressed support of this idea. “I think it would be more fair,” Mendell said, “If the student’s money were going to promotions that would benefit them.”

“It has always been understood that some of the money will go to the university,” said city manager Michael Williams. He added that now it is a matter of formalizing it and that some of the issues have been getting ironed out.

Williams further explained that there is a committee of the Brookings Chamber of Commerce that has been appointed specifically to deal with how this additional tax money is to be spent should the city adopt the Third B ordinance. This committee has spoken to both members of the SDSU administration and the SA. The committee is scheduled to present its final proposal for the usage of the Third B monies on Feb. 25. Williams said that their proposal may include ideas from the SA resolution

The addition of the Third B is thought to generate up to $225,000 per fiscal year for Brookings. Currently, Brookings collects a 1 percent tax designated for promotions from hotel room prices and the purchases of alcoholic beverages.

The current taxes on hotel rooms and alcohol brought in over $111, 000 for the 2001 fiscal year. The addition of the Third B is therefore expected to triple this.

Williams also agreed that the designation “promotions” was rather vague as set forth by state law but that the majority of the money from this tax would be given to the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.

CVB Director Deb Garbers is excited about the addition of this tax. Incentive packages are designed to attract large events to a town or area and Brookings currently cannot assemble these packages.

Garbers and Williams both expressed that the addition of this tax would give Brookings the ability to raise the standard of living for everyone. Garbers and Williams also stressed the idea that ultimately the money generated from the tax is hoped to be gained from tourists and visitors, not members of the community, like SDSU students.

Garbers said that the tax would be beneficial to SDSU students because it might make it possible to bring attractions that students would have spent more money on in order to travel elsewhere to attend.

Jim Maides, operations manager for the Union, estimated that average student would pay roughly $13.50 per year for this tax.

Garbers also stressed the fact that Sioux Falls officials have admitted that Sioux Falls cannot currently accommodate any more events or attractions on Main Street. Brookings, according to both Garbers and Williams, now has a greater capability to itself accommodate such attractions.

“What is good for Brookings is ultimately good for the students and the university,” Garbers said.

Garbers said that this tax should be cyclic in nature, bringing to the community large amounts of money and people who will spend money, then taxing that money and spending the tax in a way as to bring larger amounts of money to the city.