Jackson County School District Asking For Hotel Tax Again - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MONEY TO HELP WITH TEACHER SALARIES & BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS

Jackson County School District Asking For Hotel Tax Again

Right now, hotels and motels in the Jackson County school district charge the 7% state sales tax on their room rates. An additional 2% lodging tax would generate about $250,000 a year. 70 % of the tax money would go to boost teachers' salaries. The rest would help improve the roofing, heating and air conditioning systems.

Some hotel managers have reservations about the proposed tax hike.  Several hotel marquees on Highway 609 in St. Martin brag about their low and affordable rates. But, some managers worry a 2% tax on hotel and motel rooms could hurt their business.

Mary Jermyn is the general manager of the Super 8 Hotel. She says even though it's only 2%, it adds a couple of dollars to the bill. She says some people are conscientious when they travel and they want to get the most for their money. If they stay 3 or 4 days, that's another $10 to $20 dollars that would have to fork out. Jermyn says if the tax proposal goes through, she wants some of that money to be used to advertise and help boost the tourism industry.

But Jackson County school board members say they need the extra tax money, mainly to keep good teachers. Randall Turner says they looked at taxes in the neighboring communities. For example, Ocean Springs has a 2% sales tax for tourism, and the lodging tax in Biloxi is 4%. So, they looked for a way that they can raise some funds to recruit teachers and retain teachers.

The manager of the County Hearth Inn thinks that most guests won't mind paying a slightly bigger bill. Sol Schachter says the rate hike will be reasonable. Guests who pay $50 a night for a room, will have to pay an extra dollar on their bill.

Schachter says most of his guests come from out of state, where their hotel taxes are much higher than they are here. So, he believes the 2% tax wouldn't hurt much, and it would be beneficial to the area, especially for education.

This is the fourth time the school board has asked supervisors to support a lodging tax. Supervisors rejected the requests before, because the school board didn't list specifics about where the tax dollars would go. But board members says their latest proposal spells out exactly how the money will be spent.

Randall Turner says he hopes this time, the board of supervisors will look at their request closely, because there are very specific things that are going to benefit the children of Jackson County with this tax. If the county supervisors support this 2% lodging tax, the state legislature must also pass a bill to allow the tax to happen.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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