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Mississippi Mayors Call for Vote on Local Sales Tax Bill

By Daniel Cherry | Published 21 Feb 2013 07:04pm | comments
Mayors from across Mississippi are asking the legislature to take action on a long-awaited local option sales tax bill. MPB’s Daniel Cherry reports, the measure has more traction than it’s seen in decades but it's stalled in the House.
 
The bill known as the Citizens for Economic Development Act, or CEDA, would give municipalities the ability to levy an additional one cent sales tax if it gets 60 percent approval by voters. Greg Butler is mayor of Morton.
 
"The money we've got coming in for our budget, it's just not there like it used to be. We've got to have ways to maintain our infrastructure, we're not going to get businesses, we're not going to get industries."
 
The bill was double referred to both the House Municipalities and Ways and Means Committees, and is on the calendar for a floor vote...if leadership calls it up. It's the most traction the local option sales tax issue has gotten in more than 20 years. Chip Johnson, mayor of Hernando and President of the Mississippi Municipal League, says it's agonizing to see the bill come so far, and stall at the last minute.
 
"It is frustrating to get it out of two committees. Usually double-referred is a death nail, but we got them out of two committees, and to see it pushed to the bottom of the calendar is a little frustrating."
 
But many lawmakers like Senator Hob Bryan say higher sales taxes favor larger cities and burdens rural residents who don't get a say in the matter. And Bryan doesn't buy the notion that local option sales taxes are a way for residents to vote on taxing themselves.
 
"I'll believe that if they put up voting machines in Northpark Mall and let the shoppers decide whether they want to give 2.3 cents per dollar out of every dollar they spend there to the City of Ridgeland rather than merely 1.3 cents per dollar to the City of Ridgeland which is what they do now."
 
The President of the Municipal League, Chip Johnson says he has faith Speaker of the House Philip Gunn will bring the bill to a floor vote.
 

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