Onancock Town Council keeps ‘doughnut tax’ on cooling tray

April 27, 2021

The Onancock Town Council discussed what has become a controversial issue regarding the contention by the Corner Bakery that, according to the ordinance,  the bakery should be exempt from the meals tax on bulk items.

Town manager Matt Spuck reviewed the series of events that eventually resulted in a social media firestorm of response after the owner of the bakery Pete Smith posted his version of the controversy on the Corner Bakery Facebook page. Spuck said that collecting taxes was not his favorite part of his job but it is included in his duties as Town Manager. Spuck noted what he said could have been a discrepancy between the Bakery’s gross sales versus the amount of meals taxes submitted and claimed 70% of the Bakery’s revenue went untaxed.

He contacted the town attorney and they agreed that there was a misinterpretation by one of the parties of the ordinance and its requirements.  Spuck said that an attorney for the Corner Bakery disagreed that the ordinance allowed the town to tax bulk sales which is clearly stated. He continued that the ambiguities in the ordinance make it open to various interpretations and asked the Town Council to amend the ordinance.

The town is currently in the process of reviewing and perhaps updating its ordinances.

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Councilman Bob Bloxom commented that while he did not have a problem with Spuck’s efforts, the ordinance is unclear and  should be clarified in the forthcoming process. Bloxom said Smith’s interpretation was reasonable.

Council member Joy Marino stated “our code does not say bulk items need to be taxed.”

Council member Maphis Oswald said “the Bakery has been exempted from collecting taxes on bulk items in the past and we should move forward as we have in the past. To say that the ordinance needs to be changed to fit another definition is really not what we need to do.”

When it was mentioned that other towns, including Cape Charles, do not have the bulk exemption, Oswald replied that “our ordinances are up to us, not what other towns do.”

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Councilman Ray Burger said “the bakery’s interpretation of the ordinance is correct.”

Mayor Fletcher Fosque summarized that the bakery should continue to pay the meals tax as it has in the past and any changes will have to be created by the Council after appropriate consideration and debate.


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