After suspending the city’s restaurant and alcohol taxes in March because of the COVID–19 pandemic the forced restaurants and other businesses to limit public access, the Corbin City Commission voted Monday night to reinstate the taxes beginning June 1.
Mayor Suzie Razmus noted that the restaurant tax funding goes to support the Corbin Tourism Commission’s effort and to make the bond payments on The Arena.
While officials noted previously that the city had the funds to make the bond payments for a short time, extending collection of the restaurant tax would have a negative impact in the long-term.
“We have to look four to six months down the road,” Razmus said.
The decision was not unanimous, as Commissioner Brandon Shepherd voted against reinstating the taxes.
Shepherd, co-owner of Shep’s, said he wasn’t against reinstating the tax, but asked that the commissioners wait until the June meeting, which would give restaurant owners the opportunity to get their dine-in service up and running and see how the new rules, which limits them to 33 percent occupancy, would affect them.
Razmus pointed out that without its portion of the restaurant tax, the tourism commission has been forced to significantly slash its budget.
Tourism Director Maggy Kriebel said Monday the budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year had been cut from $1.5 million to $700,000.
“We cut out the Christmas decorations, all of our event sponsorships, which included NIBROC, Moonbow Eggfest, Cumberland Valley Cruise-In and the Redhound Varsity Club,” Kriebel said.
“We cut out most of the event sponsorships of our programs. The only programs we funded were the Christmas Parade and Open House and the Halloween on Main.”
Kriebel said tourism will also host the Colonel Sanders Half Marathon and the October Movie in the Park.
“The hardest cut was my one full-time staff member,” Kriebel said.
In addition, Kriebel said she will not be attending any travel or trade shows for the foreseeable future to promote Corbin as a tourist destination.
Officials also announced Monday that the city pool would not open as scheduled in May.
“We are following state guidelines and the state is not allowing public pools to open,” Razmus said.
Razmus said it does not mean the pool would not be open at all, and that if state regulations change, she would be in favor of opening it.
That does not affect splash pads and the new Corbin Splash Pad is scheduled to be completed in mid–June.