Pascagoula diners lukewarm on proposed restaurant tax hike - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Pascagoula diners lukewarm on proposed restaurant tax hike

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PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) -

In the near future, dining out in the city of Pascagoula may cost you a bit more. The city council has passed a resolution calling for an additional two percent restaurant tax to pay for improvements and expansion of the city's recreational facilities.

But support for such a tax increase appears to be lukewarm, at best.

"I'm not crazy about raising taxes," Thomas Marthaler said while enjoying breakfast at The Annex Restaurant. "We've got so many taxes now to pay it seems like."

Another diner, David Gasaway, agrees.

"I don't think it's a good idea because I think the people of Pascagoula and Jackson County are paying too much now with the way the economy is strained today," Gasaway said. 

Darcie Crew is the Director of Parks and Recreation in Pascagoula. A master plan done by the city calls for major upgrades.  

"They are desperately needed. Although our facilities are well used, they're dated and they need improvements and we need more room," Crew explained. "Our ball fields are not regulation size, so they need to be larger for our league play, as well as tournament play."  

City officials are adamant about the need for better recreational facilities, saying a new tax could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. But they're also adamant about giving the people a voice.  

"This is why we wanted to allow the folks to vote on it, whether they wanted to pay the tax themselves or not, rather than the council imposing it," Councilman Joe Abston said. "We just give them the avenue of being able to have it."

At Scranton's restaurant, one person who doesn't want it imposed is owner Richard Chenoweth. He and his staff have been serving up meals for 30 years.  

"If raising my prices two percent was a good idea, I'd do it all the time," Chenoweth said. "And I held my prices this last year as close as I could. I couldn't raise prices now and it's going to look like a price hike." 

Before any tax vote can be held in the city, the legislature would have to pass a local and private bill for the city. The issue is expected to be introduced by coast lawmakers during the legislative session that begins next week.  If such a bill is passed, 60 percent of Pascagoula voters would have to say 'yes' before any tax increase could go into effect.

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