Possible municipal tax ahead

Published 9:03 am Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Mississippi Municipal League is once again trying to get legislative approval for a local tax that would not require individual municipalities to go before the legislature when they seek to present a one percent sales tax.

The city of Picayune went before the legislature and received approval for the local one-cent sales tax that was put in place.

Mayor Ed Pinero said the one-cent sales tax is collected for hotels and restaurant services. The revenue generated from the tax goes toward a fund reserved for tourism and recreation use.

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Pinero said the city investigated the one-cent sales tax to reduce the ad valorem tax, which would reduce the tax burden on homeowners.

“We were limited with what we would be able to do until something was done at the legislative level,” Pinero said.

He said if the Municipal League is successful this legislative session, the city would investigate the options of adding another sales tax.

“We wouldn’t do it if we couldn’t reduce the ad valorem taxes,” Pinero said. “The fear is there will be double taxation (on homeowners) and we don’t want that to happen.”

Supervisors Anthony Hales has tried in the past to implement a sales tax in the county to increase the amount of revenue the county collects and to reduce the burden placed on homeowners.

“I’m more interested in the concept of local governments having an opportunity to have a say so on raising their revenue,” Hales said. “I’d like to see a little bit more freedom to self-govern instead of being dependent on what another governmental authority dictates to us.”

Hales said when he was drafting the one-percent sales tax proposal he used numbers from the four worse months of the year in how much revenue was generated.

Even with those circumstances, Hales calculated the tax would generate between 3 and 5 million a year.

Hales said he also included in his proposal that the funds generated by the sales tax couldn’t be spent as it was accumulated and that that the decision on how to spend the funds would be done during the annual budget.

If current legislators approve the Municipal League’s request, cities and towns would put the question of introducing a sales tax to a local vote before a tax was even implemented.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.