GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport City Council is moving forward with plans to propose a two percent sales tax to fund projects, including a $45 million Sportsplex that city leaders hope will boost tourism.
Some residents, business owners, and visitors to the city say they are skeptical about the increase.
In a 6-1 vote, council members voted to ask state lawmakers for permission to propose the two percent sales tax, which would be applied to the city’s food, beverage, and hotel industries.
Gulfport’s leaders say the tax would fund the Sportsplex, its amenities, and construction of a new road from Highway 49 to Canal Road.
Brandon Atwell, owner of Murky Waters Barbeque, says restaurant owners shouldn’t have to be singled out to fund the city’s projects.
“We have to shoulder the burden on that cost of that two percent and pass it along to our clientele, and as you can see here, it’s a mostly local clientele," said Atwell. “We already have very small profit margins. We work hard as it is."
Atwell continued: “A tax on the restaurant is taking what they think is an easy tax, an easy two percent just to add on. In this case, it doesn’t seem like the tax will have a direct benefit towards us.”
A two percent tax increase would affect both business owners and those who dine in the city often, like James King. He says he’s skeptical about paying extra to enjoy Gulfport’s growing entertainment scene.
“Once the government has a tax in place, getting them to give up that money again is like getting...a bone from a dog," said King.
The deadline for Mississippi lawmakers to approve Gulfport’s sales tax proposal is Friday, March 15. If state lawmakers approve the proposal, Gulfport residents will vote on the tax later this year.