City council votes no to NRA sales tax exemption request

The City of Bethel received an application for a Special Event Sales Tax Exemption from the NRA Foundation, Inc. of Fairfax, Virginia dated June 8th, 2018 for its annual fundraising dinner event. The event is scheduled for November 3rd, 2018.
In 2017, the Bethel City Council amended the sales tax code. One of the major changes was more transparency for sales tax exemptions.
“With the new code, organizations holding large fundraising events must get permission from the City in advance of the event before the taxes can be waived,” states Action Memorandum 18-60. “This way the City is aware of what taxes it is forgiving and can better manage the revenue impacts.”
Pursuant to the Bethel Municipal Code (4.16.180), the NRA timely applied. However, because the exemption amount is greater than $1,000, only the City Council can approve the exemption.
According to the action memo, in the past, the NRA has donated up to between $15,000 to $50,000 annually to Bethel for shooting and hunting safety.
During council’s September 11th, 2018 regular meeting, the request failed to pass by a vote of 2-4. Voting in favor of the AM 18-60 were Mayor Rick Robb and council member Thor Williams. Voting in opposition were Vice Mayor Fred Watson, and council members Mitchell Forbes, Leif Albertson, and Mark Springer.
The motion to postpone the item also failed, 3-3.
The fiscal impact to the City, if the memorandum had been approved, would be an approximate loss of $3,300 in sales tax revenue. If it had been approved, it would have been the first one granted this fiscal year, according to AM 18-60.