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Marlborough Adopts .75 Percent Meals Tax, Will Direct Money to City Parks

The fund could generate $750,000 a year.

Marlborough Adopts .75 Percent Meals Tax, Will Direct Money to City Parks
Marlborough will become the latest community in MetroWest to adopt a tax on restaurant meals. The local tax approved by the City Council Monday will add 75 cents for every $100 spent.

In a companion vote, the council then voted 6-4-1 to establish a special fund for the proceeds, which will be spent on improving the city's athletic fields and parks, and to promote sports tourism. The fund will also require authorization through the Massachusetts Legislature.

The councilors who supported the tax and fields-parks fund said it would give the city a chance to improve playing fields that have been neglected due to a lack of funds, including by installing artificial turf and better lighting.

The tax could generate as much as $750,000 a year. Much of that could be paid by people in other towns, or traveling through the area, who stop and eat at the city's dining places, said Ward 1 Councilor Joseph F. Delano Jr.

The meals tax, he pointed out, is already established in several nearby towns, including Hudson and Natick. Initially, he said, the money could rehab four of the city's fields.

"It's something we can do that will make a big splash," said Ward 1 Councilor Joseph F. Delano Jr.

The council's votes were divided on both the meals tax and the fields fund. The initial vote, to create the meals tax, was approved 7-3-1 with Edward Clancy, Michael Ossing and Kathleen Robey opposed, and Councilor Matt Elder abstaining. He cited a conflict of interest.

The 6-4-1 vote on the special fund dew opposition from Clancy, Ossing and Robey again, along with Mark Oram.

In his comments, Seymour said that the councilors had received 130 letters or emails in support of the tax and fund, and three opposed. "The restaurants support this," he said.

Councilors who opposed the tax and fields fund pointed out that the city has many other needs, and even within youth athletics, not all athletes will benefit from a fields improvement campaign. Clancy used youth hockey as an example.

"It doesn't cover all youth groups," he said. And the tax, he said, would be borne by all residents whenever they visit restaurants.

Following the approvals, a small crowd of people applauded. They included supporters and athletes involved in youth sports.

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