BREAKING: Newton levies new fees on Internet sweepstakes

Newton has levied new fees for Internet sweepstakes businesses that will require a $2,500 fee to be paid per business annually. In addition changes to the city’s fee schedule requires $1,000 be paid per computer terminal within the businesses.

No dissenting votes were cast in the Newton City Council decision that spawned divided discussion among elected leaders.

“People invest in a business, and it is a legitimate business. I hate to run anyone out of business on an investment they made by taxing them or giving them a fee that is an exorbitant amount,” said Newton Council member Robert Abernethy Jr. “I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing that we would have a fee and a fee per machine, but I think that is a lot of money.”

Council members Wes Weaver and Mary Bess Lawing argued that by setting fees lower than surrounding towns might cause an influx of internet sweepstakes businesses from surrounding communities into Newton.

“I think you underestimate how many would be here if we go below (the fees other cities have set,” Weaver said. “I am more worried about what is going on in out own backyard than what is going on down the street.”

Newton City Manager Todd Clark said businesses operating within the city are expected to comply with the new fee structure immediately.