Coliseum Expansion Supporters, Opponents Get Ready For Election - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/31/04

Coliseum Expansion Supporters, Opponents Get Ready For Election

In just a few days, a controversial proposal to increase Harrison County's hotel tax by 2-percent to fund the Coliseum expansion will be decided.

The issue will appear on the November 2nd ballot.

June Fallo is for the expansion.

For the past 15 years June Fallo has commuted from her home in Biloxi to her job in New Orleans where she works at a restaurant in the French Quarter.

During this time, the New Orleans convention center has been expanded twice Fallo says as a result, the Crescent City has seen a major increase in tourism.

"The tourism industry in New Orleans just blossomed," Fallo said. "All of the sudden the Cruise ships started coming. Did you know that you have the Delta Queen steamboat company that's going to be testing this area out in 2005? They're looking at the expansion of your convention center also."

And that's the message Coliseum leaders here in South Mississippi are trying to drive home, while supporters are hard at work. mapping out their election day strategy.

"When people come to the polls, if they got any questions, we want to educate them, give them the answers and protect the polls, the precincts," Robert Barq, an expansion supporter, said.

Bob Bennett, one of the major opponents of the hotel tax hike says one of the major reasons he's against this measure is because according to a national study, a 2-percent hotel tax hike would lead to a 2.4 percent reduction in hotel rooms sales and associated spending each year.

June Fallo says she finds this figure hard to believe, especially after what she's seen working in the restaurant industry in New Orleans.

"The dollar per person that people started coming in, it became a higher spendable income, when conventioneers come in, they are working people. They are out to do business. And when they have time off, they go out and spend," Fallo said.

Whether the 2-percent hotel tax hike is the best idea for the Coliseum expansion now lies in the hands of Harrison County voters. And that's just one of the big decisions they'll be faced with come Tuesday.

By: Toni Miles

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