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Myhre’s owner asks for relief from pull-tab tax

Melanie and Bob McShane play the pull tabs in Moon Dogs Too.    - Charlie Bermant/Staff Photo
Melanie and Bob McShane play the pull tabs in Moon Dogs Too.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant/Staff Photo

A Port Orchard restaurant owner has asked the city to suspend a portion of its gambling tax for one year as a way to help small businesses through current economic conditions.

“Tough economic times are upon us, especially in the service industry,” said Myhre’s owner John Lora to the Port Orchard City Council last week. “While the city would only lose 1 percent of the general fund by suspending the pull-tab tax, it would give the hard-hit business base in the city a much-needed boost.”

Lora addressed the council during its public comment period. No city employee or official was aware of the proposal, and no action to address the idea has been scheduled.

Lora reported that his business paid about $17,000 in pull-tab taxes last year, from a percentage of overall profits.

In his presentation, he said the saved money would allow him to complete several renovations.

Later, he said the amount could make the difference between his ability to keep the business going.

Lora suggests a one-year moratorium on the tax, to be re-examined at the end of that period.

Pull-tabs require customers buy several small sheets of paper from the bar and open them to reveal a possible prize. The game, which chooses winners through random chance, is often described as “addicting.” 

“I know that other businesses who pay this tax have seen a downward turn in sales lately,” he said. “This would benefit all small businesses involved.”

Darryl Baldwin, who owns Moon Dogs Too, does a significant Pull Tabs business, but said the tax he pays is not so significant to affect his business. Cedar Cove Inn owner Gil Michael, who does not house any gambling applications, said Lora’s proposal deserves a look.

“We are going through a pretty tough time,” Michael said. “The city should do whatever it can to help small businesses. This may mean they need to postpone some of their more grandiose projects.

“The council should look at this,” he said. “If he can prove that it really effects his bottom line, then they should consider suspending the tax for a period of time.”

Lora said the drop in revenue directly coincided with the increase in gas prices earlier this year. He does not advocate a permanent suspension of the tax, only for the time it takes for businesses to recover.

“If the county approves the temporary tax break,” he said. “I would be happy to return in one year’s time to discuss the situation again.”

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