Bay St. Louis to vote on food & beverage tax; Council allocates $6.5M bond funding

Bay St. Louis to vote on food & beverage tax; Council allocates $6.5M bond funding

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - December 17, Bay St. Louis residents will head to the polls to vote on a two-percent food and beverage tax. The City Council finalized that date for the referendum at Tuesday night's meeting.

If approved, the money would go toward promoting tourism and improving parks and recreation.

City leaders got permission to levy the tax in the 2019 legislative session. And it must be passed by a super majority of voters, at least 60-percent.

At least one citizen we spoke with hopes voters will take the long view on how the tax could benefit the community.

“Well, they are attracting tourism, so somebody has to pay the bill for tourism,” Bob Cherry said. “Some of them realize tourists bring in dollars and pay for a lot that we have here. But as a whole, the restaurants and the hotels are attracting tourists. So somebody has to pay the bill.”

Auditors would be in charge of monitoring how the city spends the funds and making sure they are only utilized for parks and recreation, or tourism promotion.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, council members debated the future of a potential $6.5 million bond, and dozens of community members came out to give their input.

The biggest issue was determining which projects would receive funding.

The council determined a 60/40 split to be most appropriate, with 60-percent going to projects in the city that need it the most. Most of those are in wards five and six. The other remaining 40 percent would be split among the remaining wards.

After the issue was settled, the room was filled with applause and Councilman Josh Desalvo said he was thrilled with the community’s involvement. Desalvo went on to stress how useful the bond will be for people living in areas annexed by the city.

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