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Fishers considers food and beverage tax to fund $170M event center

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — The Fishers city government on Thursday had a hearing so residents could share what they think about a bump in the food and beverage tax.

The extra cash would be used to fund a $170 million event center. The Indy Fuel minor league hockey team will be using it as the team’s home arena.

Fishers is proposing an additional 1% tax on food and beverage sales at restaurants.

Brian Graham, founder of Four Day Ray Brewing brewpub in Fishers, said, “I think these things generate more traffic to the area and it’s just really helpful to the entire economy.”

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness says the city would use the money to help pay for the new event center at the Fishers District. “We’ve been waiting to find an amenity or a catalyst for economic development and growth that supports our growing restaurant community, because we think it makes sense that a food and beverage tax should be directly related back to the industry.”

“When we came up with the concept of this event center we thought here’s an example of an amenity that really does support the local restaurant community and, so, we’re willing to contemplate raising that 1% to pay for the event center,” he said.

The 1% tax would be added to customers’ bills at restaurants, including fast-food locations.

“If you went to lunch and it was $15, you’d be paying an additional 15 cents on your lunch in order to accomplish what we’re trying to do here,” Fadness said.

The new tax would be in addition to the 1% food and beverage tax that is already collected for Hamilton County.

The Republican mayor told News 8, “A, it benefits the very folks that we’re going to be collecting this from the restaurant industry. B, it allows us to collect money from individuals that don’t live within the confines of Fishers, and, C, it goes to something that we can all enjoy, a common gathering place where we can do anything from graduating our high school seniors all the through world class concerts.”

Not everybody is on board with the proposal. Fishers resident Chaz Druetzer told council members even a small tax increase is compounded by all the other taxes he pays. “Federal income tax, Social Security tax, Indiana state income tax, Hamilton County income tax, my property tax, the Hamilton Southeastern Schools referendum tax, the Indiana gas tax; we are already paying a Lucas Oil Stadium tax. I’ve been to two Colts games since Lucas Oil was built.”

The Fishers City Council will take a final vote on the tax hike during its meeting Monday night.

News 8’s Adam Pinsker contributed to this story.