NASHVILLE, Tenn (Reuters) - The home county of Jack Daniel’s killed local efforts to tax the Tennessee distiller’s whiskey by the barrel.
A drive by some residents to impose a barrel tax to help Moore County fund infrastructure improvements died Monday night in a 10-5 vote by the Metro Lynchburg-Moore County Council.
Supporters of a barrel tax had said Jack Daniel’s whiskey should help raise money to protect the bucolic images used in its advertising. Tax opponents had argued that Jack Daniel’s already has contributed by boosting tourism and could move out of state if a tax were imposed.
“I’m just sorry I wasn’t able to get it over the finish line,” said Charles J. Rogers, a Moore County native behind the multi-year push for a barrel tax. “We got it further along than I thought we would. I have an idea that somewhere down the road this whole subject will be revisited.”
The drive for a barrel tax required state legislation to permit a referendum on the issue, followed by local residents gathering signatures from registered voters equal to at least 10 percent of the turnout from the last presidential election.
Any referendum would have specified the size of the per-barrel tax, whether it was $1 or $10, Rogers said, adding that the boost to tourism the distillery has brought also strains the county’s infrastructure.
After two prior council votes that had asked for legislative action, the council Monday night voted to rescind the request for enabling legislation.
“After four years of intensive work on it, obviously I’m disappointed, but it wasn’t me personally that lost, it was the people of Moore County who never were given the opportunity to vote on this issue themselves,” Rogers said.
State Representative David Alexander, a Republican who represents Moore County, said there would be no public vote on a barrel tax unless the council changes its position.
Monday night’s discussion included a report that Michigan had made inquiries about luring Jack Daniel’s from its Lynchburg home about 50 miles south of Nashville and the area chamber of commerce had opposed a tax unanimously, he said.
Editing by David Bailey and Greg McCune