D'Iberville looks to add 2% tax to restaurant, bar bills - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

D'Iberville looks to add 2% tax to restaurant, bar bills

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) -

By Jessica Bowman – email

D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) – The City of D'Iberville is asking state lawmakers for permission to add a two percent tax to all restaurant and bar tabs. The money would be used to fund construction of a new public safety center.

Even if lawmakers say yes, it would still have to be approved by D'Iberville voters in November. City Manager and former state legislator Michael Janus isn't optimistic about the measure's future.

Wednesday, city council members voted four to two to send the request to the legislature. Some council members believe residents need more time to look over the facts. But those voting for the request said this is just the first step in the process, and promised that residents will have the final say.

"All we're doing is asking the citizens to vote on it in November, but we've got to do the preliminary steps to get that far," Councilwoman Brenda Broussard said.

"I think we need to look into this thing further and that's my opinion," Mayor Rusty Quave said.

The mayor originally asked the council to table the idea until next week, but City Manager Michael Janus said time is of the essence, and next week could be too late.

"It will make it that much tougher to have this passed," Janus said. "I suspect my former colleagues in Jackson will quite honestly not pass this legislation."

Janus believes that because the council's vote was not unanimous, it will ultimately die in Jackson.

"Four to two, quite honestly, does not send a message to the legislature that would vote on this that we're lockstep and we feel this is the right thing to do at this time for the city," Janus said.

Some local restaurant owners expressed their concerns that a two percent increase would bring the total sales tax at restaurants and bars to nine percent.

Marc Wyatt, who owns Ice Cream and More, said, "People already fussing about prices going up, so here add two more cents on to it and, you know, all it's going to do is hurt the local business people."

Mayor Quave said despite some reservations, he does support the two percent tax increase.

"But I don't think it's right to shove anything down anybody's throat without them knowing the full facts about it," Quave said.

"I want to get some information from them," Councilman Stephen Furney said. "They elected me to do a job and represent them, and I just felt they weren't aware of this."

Janus said there are only about three weeks left for the resolution to pass the legislature. If it is approved, D'Iberville residents would be able to vote on the issue in November.

Janus said the proposed tax could generate at least $1.4 million each year. He said the money would be used to construct a public safety center to house the police and fire departments, along with an expanded library, a sports complex and some tourism/economic development projects.

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