Eating out in Gautier may cost more in the future

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - If you visit a restaurant or lounge in Gautier, you may have to dig a little bit deeper into your pocket in the future. The city council is asking the legislature to approve a vote on a one cent sales tax increase on those businesses. That would raise about $164,000 a year to help improve the city's parks and recreational facilities.

At the lounge, Just One More, it's quiet now. But customers will soon be coming through the doors.  Manager Greg Ward feels that paying just one more cent won't really matter that much.

"It's only for bars and restaurants, but I don't think that the one cent on a dollar would really hurt anyone." Ward said.

James Lee manages the Indian Point Resort, with its own restaurant. He's OK with a tax increase, but offers this advice.

"As long as it's spent on buying supplies and everything to make the place a better family friendly environment in the city of Gautier which is what everybody is stemming towards." Lee said.

The city's mayor, Tommy Fortenberry, is a strong proponent of increased recreational opportunities for the city's children.

The reason why-there city doesn't have a basketball court or tennis court. Fortenberry believes that has got to change.

"We're losing a lot of our youth to Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, and Vancleave for sports and recreation." the mayor said. "We simply have not invested in our youth like we should and I think it's time that we do."

Some business owners, like Jonathan Roy, feel they are being singled out.

"I don't see why a grocery store or any other business wouldn't have the same taxes as I would." Roy said. "They do the same amount of business or more business. We're just getting started."

More importantly, how do people who would pay the extra cent feel?

Arlene Wicker is eating out today.

"We don't want to keep them from coming by doing it, but I think we need it," Wicker said.

Randy Bosarge is another customer.

"Anytime you can improve the quality of life for the local citizens and it doesn't seem to affect the bottom line then I don't see where that would be a problem." Bosarge said.

If the bottom line results in better recreation in the city, most agree one penny is a small price to pay.  Of course, the legislature would have to approve a local and private bill for Gautier for the matter to move forward.

Even then, people who live in the city would have a vote on the increase.  The tax hike would have to be approved by 60 percent of the citizens and voting would most likely happen next year.

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