Drive-Through Tax Proposed for Road Money

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The time you save using the drive-through could end up costing you more.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation is floating the idea of charging an additional tax on food purchased at drive-throughs. The idea was discussed Monday at a meeting of state legislators.

It would be an extra 5 percent, added to the 6 percent customers already pay.

It could bring in tens of millions of dollars for roads, according to official estimates.

But, some restaurant owners fear it would hurt business.

"I'm single. I don't cook at home that much, and go through the drive-through quite a bit. So, adding an extra tax onto the drive-through would about kill me," Bonnie Leithman says.

Leithman is among roughly 65 percent of customers at Tim Hortons in Cross Lanes who use the drive-through.

"It actually, probably would end up hurting our business somewhat because that person that might just want to come through and grab a coffee in the morning may not do that now," says George Knox, franchise owner of Tim Hortons.

Under this proposal, getting a large cup of coffee inside at Tim Hortons would still cost $1.70

But, if you buy the same cup of coffee at the drive-through, the price would jump to about $1.78.

Brent Walker, spokesman for the state's transportation department, says this is one of several suggestions to bring in money for the state road fund.

Much of that money comes from the gas tax.

"And so, we find ourselves still cutting programs short or not being able to pave the number of miles that we'd like to," Walker says.

Walker says this idea ultimately may not get any support in the Legislature.

"I think in the long run, it'd be hurting the restaurant industry and hurting the state because i think you're going to have (fewer) people making that quick stop."

Other funding suggestions the transportation department is making include a 1 percent surcharge on car insurance premiums.

But, Gov. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., released a statement Tuesday saying, “I want to be clear that these are suggestions that I strongly oppose and do not in any way support as a means to generate revenue for the state road fund.”

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