As much as $40,000 in annual local meals tax revenue could be spent on improvements to downtown Hamilton.
Through six months ending in December, $20,775 was collected from the ¾ percent local option meals tax, the Hamilton Board of Selectmen was told on Tuesday night.
“So we are headed for $40,000,” said Selectman David Carey.
Bob Bullivant, a former selectman who is a member of Hamilton’s Economic Development Committee, recommended that selectman put the money into downtown “infrastructure improvements.”
The committee made its recommendation after coming up with a list of 20 suggested ways to spend the money, ranging from buying land for a parking lot or for a septic system to removing utility poles and burying utility wires and installing more decorative streets lights.
Originally, the plan was for the money to go into the town’s stabilization fund. But to spend money from it – even if for downtown work such as benches or hanging flowers – would require two-thirds approval of Town Meeting.
“It seems a little extreme,” Bullivant said.
Already, Bullivant said the committee has extended an invitation to downtown businesses owners to come up with suggested improvements in order to have a say on how the money will be spent.
Resident Ed Howard said the EDC has taken him up on an offer to explain how he organized a similar business organization in neighboring Essex.
The downtown work will also be bolstered by the proceeds of the sale of a piece of Depot Square property several years ago. About $50,000 earmarked for downtown improvements remains.
“I would suggest that money go in there,” said Selectman Bill Bowler.
Carey said the money may also be used for new, creative downtown activities such as a block party or farmers’ market, possibly by closing off Railroad Avenue for a day.