Gautier voters mixed on 2% tax for recreation improvements

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Gautier voters head to the polls Tuesday to vote on the Pennies for Parks referendum. It's a two percent sales tax on restaurant food and motel/hotel rooms, which will be used to improve recreational facilities in the city.

The Gautier Recreation Advisory Committee was out making a last ditch effort to woo voters into giving the city's parks and playgrounds a makeover.

"This is an extremely important issue for Gautier. Our parks are really worn out. Our children are going to Gautier, Vancleave, and Pascagoula to play because our facilities are in such bad condition," Committee Chairman Larry Daily said.

Group members told voters if Gautier raises its prepared food and hotel tax by two percent, the tax could generate $340,000 a year for recreation improvements. Folks like Teresa Nelson love the idea.

"What they are trying to do for us is long overdue because the kids don't have anywhere to go," Nelson said.

"Our families and our children need everything to be raised up to standard. We need to improve our city," another Gautier voter said.

At least 60 percent of voters in Gautier have to vote "yes" plan in order for it pass. While some people are in favor of it, others said it's a waste of time and money.

"The reason why I am not in favor of it is because it is a financial boondoggle that will not carry itself," an opponent of the plan said.

"It doesn't make sense," another resident said.

Walter Malone said he'll also be voting "no." He believes this tax will end up being another pointless burden on taxpayers.

"We have two small motels in Gautier. Most people who go to the restaurants are local people or people from the nearby community. It is not like we have a flood of tourists in Gautier and there are no tourist attractions in Gautier. We need to build some, but right now, if we are basing it on that, it is an illusion," said Malone.

The recreation committee members strongly disagree, but said they understand citizens will have their own views about the plan. They're still encouraging everyone to come out and vote Tuesday.

Polls will be open from 7am to 7pm Tuesday at the Gautier Convention Center.

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