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North Andover | BRIEFS

On second try, meal tax passes

November 20, 2011

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If voting on adoption of a 0.75 percent local option meals tax for the second time in five months didn’t feel enough like deja vu for those at Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, the identical seven-vote margin in results should have helped. But that’s where the similarities end, as this time around the seven votes were enough to get the meals tax passed. Although the majority of the public comments and the loudest applause during the 45-minute discussion last Tuesday belonged to opponents of the meals tax, who argued that it was unfair and would hurt local restaurants, the final vote was 253-246 in favor. At June’s Town Meeting, adoption of the meals tax failed by a 171-164 count. State Department of Revenue estimates indicate that North Andover would have revenue of approximately $428,000 from the meals tax last fiscal year. Former Finance Committee chairman Mark Rodgers was the lead petitioner, gathering enough signatures to get the question put back on the warrant. After the vote, he said he was pleased. “This town really needs this revenue and it’s not going to hurt the businesses,’’ he said. “I really believe that.’’ Revenue from the meals tax, which would add 75 cents to a $100 restaurant bill, would go to the town’s general fund. Collection of the meals tax begins Jan. 1. - Katheleen Conti