County officials are one step closer in securing food and beverage tax money to provide some relief for local businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Monroe County Food and Beverage Tax Advisory Commission on Tuesday approved a request from the Monroe County commissioners to spend up to $200,000 of the county’s share of food and beverage tax revenue to help locally owned county businesses that support tourism and are outside of Bloomington’s city limits.

The food and beverage tax went into effect on Feb. 1, 2018. From then through January, it has brought in a little more than $6.3 million, Chief Deputy Auditor Christopher Muench told The Herald-Times last week. Of that amount, the county has a little over $730,000 in its food and beverage tax fund, he said. The county’s portion of the food and beverage tax is collected from businesses outside of Bloomington. This restricts the use of those funds to the areas it was collected, and food and beverage tax dollars can only be used to support tourism efforts.

The commissioners last week agreed to make the request to use the funds in response to an online petition local business owners started to reallocate 50% of Monroe County’s food and beverage tax revenue already collected to independent businesses that have been affected by the pandemic.

The Monroe County Council still needs to meet to appropriate the money before it can be spent. Monroe County Council President Eric Spoonmore said the county fiscal body is prepared to meet at 2 p.m. today to take up the request.
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