In a July 10 email that has been widely shared on social media, Greensboro’s Mayor Nancy Vaughan suggested preliminary meetings regarding the possibility of a county-wide 1-percent prepared-food tax. The invites were sent to email addresses on Downtown Greensboro Inc.’s mailing list, requesting their presence at an “informational meeting” regarding “preliminary thoughts” about the tax. The email was sent by DGI Director of Marketing Stacy Calfo. Vaughan’s signature was attached at the bottom of the email requesting that RSVPs be sent to her city email address.

Vaughan told Triad City Beat that she did not send the email directly to the invitees because she had asked council member and DGI President Zack Matheny for the DGI email list, however he was “reluctant” to give it to her.

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“It was just easier for me to have them distribute it,” Vaughan said.

According to the email, the meeting will be held at the Windows on Elm, located on the second floor of the Tanger Center administration building, from 10 a.m.-noon. on Monday, July 17, and is by invitation only.

“This really is for restaurants only,” Vaughan told TCB.

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These meetings have been called preliminary, however several meetings have already occurred between officials at the city and county level as well as major power players and business moguls.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan

Vaughan stated that there will be a number of meetings over the next couple of months, asserting, “I think saying it was done in secrecy is kind of ludicrous.”

Vaughan said that this funding could go toward “improvements” and “maintenance” for the city’s assets such as Bryant Park, which hosts sporting events such as golf and soccer tournaments and, according to the mayor, is “beginning to show an awful lot of age.”

As previously reported by TCB, Greensboro Sports Foundation is supplying $10,000 a month to retain KTS Strategies, a consulting firm that assists clients with advocacy and business strategy across all levels of government in both state and federal arenas.

In a June interview with TCB, GSF’s CEO Richard Beard claimed, “There’s no story there,” adding, “I don’t have any comment based on what you’ve already reported.”

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Vaughan said that Beard had the “experience and the time to do it, and he has an absolute love and passion for improving the sports community. So we thought it would be good to house it with him.

“Obviously we, through the sports foundation, appreciate their advice,” Vaughan said of KTS Strategies. “But we have filed nothing; it was not on our legislative agenda. And we’ll move forward. I think we have a really really strong case when people see it and they realize what a hole we can have in future events if we do nothing.”

This year’s budget included a city property tax rate of 67.25 cents per $100 property valuation, a four cent increase from the previous budget. Vaughan opposed this tax increase. Other counties such as Mecklenburg County and Wake County already have a prepared food tax, Vaughan said, stating, “We are looking at revenue streams that other communities are utilizing.”

“It’s unfair to put it all on the backs of the taxpayers,” she said.

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