Rally promotes sales tax for Gautier parks, playgrounds

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Next month, voters in Gautier will head to the polls to vote either for or against a two percent sales tax on prepared food and lodging. City leaders want the tax revenue to help upgrade the parks and recreational facilities around town. A group of citizens hit the streets Thursday to persuade voters to say yes to the plan.

The soaring temperatures only fueled the Gautier Recreation Advisory Committee to rally support for their cause.

"It is really hot out here, but I just have to deal with it," Kaiden Kinsey said.

Third grader volunteer Kaiden Kinsey was helping get the word out about the prepared food and lodging tax up for vote next month. He was joined by his dad and brother.

"Both of these boys play baseball at Buddy Davis Field, and the program could be so much better if we have proper funding," Gary Kinsey said.

Recreation Advisory Chairmen Larry Dailey said that is just one of many recreational facilities in bad shape.

"When Gautier incorporated, we inherited extending parks. They were already near lifecycle. We have really not been able to bring things up to an improved condition because funds we not available," said Daily.

Gautier has now been approved for a Mississippi Development Bank loan for $5 million to upgrade baseball and football facilities, neighborhood parks, and a new multi-purpose center for senior and youth activities. The committee members said if they can get 60 percent of voters to favor this two percent levy, the city can use that future revenue to pay back the loan.

"We have a ways to go to build support," said Dailey.

If this measure is approved, the tax could generate nearly $300,000 a year for improvements.

"As we look at all the neighboring cities, we look at the improvements they are doing to their recreation. We hope to not only increase our participation, but increase the morale of the citizens by having more and better improved parks," committee member James Torrey said.

Citizens will vote August 27th. If 60 percent of the voters say yes to the tax, the state legislature will still do a review every three years to make sure the funds are being spent solely for parks and recreation facilities.

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