Every time a cashier scans a grocery item, Gulfport collects sales tax. The city would like to add an extra penny to that tax, so it can bring down its mounting debt.
Stephen O'Mara was buying groceries at the Gulfport store WLOX News visited. He said he would support the tax increase, "Because we don't want our city to be bankrupt. It's kind of aggravating. But it's a necessary evil, I guess."
As Franco Hall pushed his shopping cart toward the deli, he also said an extra penny to pay off Gulfport's debt would be worth it. "A penny here, a penny there, it doesn't matter," laughed Hall.
Meghan Goepel stood next to her cash register, checking out a shopper. She believes an added tax would probably fit in her budget. She just wants Gulfport to do the right thing with its extra money. "If it's debts on the streets or whatever," said Goepel, "then yes, because our city needs to be fixed."
Nobody at the Choice grocery store seemed thrilled with the idea of paying a higher tax. But, nobody said they would vote against it, if it ended up on ballots. "I wouldn't mind paying the extra penny," Jack Wellman said, "if I had something to show for it."
Lisa Nye said, "If it isn't a permanent thing, I think it would be all right."
Ray Ladner didn't see anything wrong with a one cent bump in local taxes. "An extra penny on the dollar wouldn't be too bad," he said. "But I think they get enough already."
The one cent sales tax hike can only be implemented if 60% of Gulfport voters support it. And they'll only get that chance if the Mississippi legislature approves local option sales tax legislation.