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Mayors Ask for Local Option Sales Tax

By Daniel Cherry | Published 30 Jan 2013 06:05pm | comments
Mississippi mayors are once again pleading with lawmakers to allow municipalities to raise sales taxes on themselves. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, local leaders say they're handcuffed by the legislature without a local option sales tax. 
 
Mayors from across the state are promoting bills in the House and Senate they're calling the Citizens for Economic Development Act. Eddie Fulton is Mayor of Quitman in Clark County. He and other mayors want the option to levy an additional one percent sales tax for specific projects like roads and water lines.
 
Fulton says, "We're handcuffed so we've got to have the support of our state legislative bodies to give us the authority to ask our citizens, and have faith in them. I've got faith in them. Please have faith in them."
 
Currently the legislature looks at city requests for local option taxes on a case by case basis. Local leaders want the option to raise the tax if 60 percent of voters approve the hike. This argument isn't new...neither is the legislature rejecting the proposal. Senator Hob Bryan opposes local option taxes because he says, the taxes benefit larger cities on the backs of rural residents who don't get a vote in the matter.
 
Bryan says, "It is inaccurate to say this is people voting to tax themselves. This is people voting to tax other folks. That's the key to it. If I live in a trade center and I have a local option sales tax, I tax all the people that shop there."
 
But Jack Reed Jr., Mayor of Tupelo, doesn't think that argument carries much weight. Hypothetically, if he were to visit Corinth, he says he'd still put a burden on the infrastructure without being a resident. 
 
"I'm wearing down their street while I'm driving on it. If I get in an accident the Corinth Police Department or Fire Department are responding to it. They don't send me a bill at the end of the accident report, 'By the way, here's $1,000 for us responding to it", says Reed.
 
At least 38 other states allow the local option sales tax.

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