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Gulfport’s quest for new food/beverage tax dies in the Senate

Updated: Mar. 28, 2019 at 12:53 PM CDT
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JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport voters won’t even get a chance to vote on a proposed three percent food/beverage tax. The local and private bill to hold a referendum died Thursday in committee.

Sen. Joel Carter of Gulfport told WLOX News the chairman of the Senate committee reviewing House Bill 1745 wouldn’t bring it to the floor for a vote.

The city was requesting the additional sales tax, which would mostly affect restaurants, so a new sports complex could be built.

According to City Councilman R. Lee Flowers, road improvements were also part of this project. He said if the tax would have passed, the city planned to increase access to the existing Sportsplex and expand Creosote Road from the Gulfport Premium Outlets to Canal Road. For now it’s back to the drawing board.

“We’ve got a year to put together the plan that addresses the concerns that were raised this time and also draws the clear picture of what we’re trying to do,” Flowers said. “If we just talk about ball fields, that may not be the best way to present this when it’s not ball fields that’s going to be the chunk of the money.”

The Senate on Wednesday did approve House Bill 1683. It will now head to Gov. Phil Bryant’s desk for his signature. The bill means Bay St. Louis voters will determine whether the city tacks on an additional two percent to tabs at bars and restaurants.

If 60 percent of Bay St. Louis voters say yes, the extra sales tax will pay for the promotion of tourism and improve parks and recreation inside the city.

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