City of Kent looks into sin tax for alcohol

Proposed 4-cent increase faces opposition

In an effort to raise money for the city of Kent, local officials are looking into the possibility of a sin tax on alcohol sales.

The tax would probably be 4 cents, City Manager Dave Ruller said, with the revenue going toward the Kent Department of Public Safety, though what they would fund and how much of it would be implemented has not been set.

While Ohio allows counties to implement sin taxes, if Kent were to apply the extra tax it would be the first tax of its kind in a city.

Barhoppers shouldn’t worry yet; a law prohibiting cities to implement a sin tax would have to be amended for the tax to become a reality, and the state has not voiced any interest in doing this yet.

“Our law director wrote our state representative this week to see if they could remodify the law to focus on cities,” Ruller said. “Right now we are fishing to see what we can get.”

Employees from local bars are less than enthused about the possibility of an extra few cents on their drinks.

“I think it’s a sin,” said Thomas Creech, manager of Ray’s Place. “I personally have no idea how we would account for the extra money. And they aren’t building a stadium this time. It’s to make up for their own fiscal irresponsibility.”

Ruller stresses that this proposal is because Kent is a college city.

“With a college city such as Kent, there can be a major impact on public safety,” Ruller said. “The logic was that, with the student base, it would make sense to create a revenue base out of that, and 4 cents would not be an extra burden on the students.”

But local business owners insist that the move would be bad in both the short- and long-term for business.

“We are in competition with businesses in other areas that would not have the sin tax,” said George Lewis, owner of Pufferbelly Ltd. “It would hurt the downtown because people will go somewhere else. It’s just a terrible idea. What Kent should do is spend less money.”

Students also feel that a sin tax would be another way to take more money away from them.

“I know that this is a college town, but by further exploiting the college students I feel the city of Kent could focus their efforts elsewhere,” said junior accounting major Taylor Belling. “Surely they’ve racked enough money from parking tickets to cover an extra five cent tax.”

Senior history major John Swistok also expressed his anger with the potential tax.

“(It’s) ridiculous,” he said. “Why not put a sin tax on cigarettes? Those seem to hurt people more than alcohol.”

Swistok also sees it as a problem for local businesses.

“It’ll keep people away from bars,” he said. “It’s going to start driving away older customers.”

Contact public affairs reporter Robert Taylor at [email protected].

Contact public affairs reporter Andrew Gaug at [email protected].