The tax of up to 4 percent on meals in restaurants and prepared meals from grocery stores would raise an estimated $13 million per year for school construction.
With property taxes down, some Loudoun County leaders said the meals tax is the best way to raise money for schools, but restaurant owners said they are being unfairly singled out in tough economic times.
With food prices rising and more customers already staying at home, many restaurant owners said the proposed tax would be difficult for them to swallow.
Two previous attempts to pass a meals tax in Loudoun County failed in the 1990s, but county leaders said that this time the proposed meals tax would only go toward school construction.
Many area municipalities like the District and Alexandria already have meals taxes. Leesburg's meals tax is 3.5 percent, and one restaurant owner there said it has hurt his business by raising his prices.
Next year, Loudoun County leaders are expecting a budget gap of almost $180 million.