Richmond considers litter tax on city businesses

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Richmond City Council may ask voters in November to decide on a proposal to impose a litter tax on city businesses.

On Tuesday, the council voted 6-1 to have city staff prepare a measure for the November ballot on the proposed tax. City staff must bring the measure back to council for further review.

Under the proposal, the city’s fast food businesses, liquor stores, convenience markets, gas station mini-marts and large retailers serving carryout food would pay annual taxes. The proposal was fashioned after a similar first-of-its-kind tax in Oakland that passed in 2006.

The annual tax may range from $233 to $3,800 depending on the amount of a business’ gross receipts, according to city staff. The city could take in as much as $675,000 annually if all businesses complied with the tax requirement, according to its preliminary figures.

The proposal was born from a list of revenue-generating ideas proposed by Mayor Tom Butt earlier this year in response to the city’s budget deficit projections.

Councilman Nat Bates, the only vote against considering the ballot measure, took issue with a proposal he believes would make the city less friendly to businesses for the sole purpose of fixing the city’s budget problems.

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