JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Leaders of Mississippi’s cities and towns are renewing their effort to get a local option sales tax.
The 1 percent tax would have to be approved by at least 60 percent of local voters, and revenue would pay for specific projects such as repairing roads or water systems. Once a specified project is completed, the tax would go away.
The Mississippi Municipal League has tried for years to get legislative approval for a local tax, but their efforts have failed. It’s unclear whether this year will be any different.
Some lawmakers are leery of approving any new taxes, even those requiring permission of local voters. Others say a local sales tax is unfair to out-of-town residents who would pay it while shopping.
Under current state law, cities or towns must go to the Legislature individually to seek approval for a local tax. Several cities have gotten that permission, often setting a tax on hotel stays or restaurant meals. If legislators were to approve a local option sales tax, cities could simply put the question to local voters.
Kosciusko Mayor Jimmy Cockcroft said Wednesday that people usually don’t want to pay higher property taxes, and a local sales tax would provide money for projects.
“I’ve got streets that are not going to last another 10, 15 years,” Cockcroft said during a news conference at the Capitol.
Municipal League director Shari Veazey said more than half of the cities and towns have adopted resolutions to support the request for a local sales tax. The league refers to the tax proposal as the Citizens for Economic Development Act.
Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw said his town needs about $500,000 to repave roads. He estimated a property tax increase would generate about $20,000 a year, while a 1 percent sales tax would generate about $100,000 a year.