Push for Optional Tax

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Those communities or counties wanting to impose a proposed one-cent additional sales tax, earmarked for local projects, would have to take it to a vote with a 60 percent majority required for passage.

When a specific project is completed, the tax would automatically be removed, under one proposal.

"We think it's a good deal," said Jack Gregory of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors. "It gives you an opportunity for the citizens to do this."

"We have petitioned the legislature, the senate and the house for many years to get this passed and let us vote on our own destiny," added Mayor Robert Coggins of Baldwyn.

"This bill will give you an opportunity to provide whatever you need for your city or for your county," Larry Swales, a Rankin County supervisor said.

Sen. David Jordan of Greenwood, who represents District 24, endorsed the plan.

"This is not a tax increase. It is to allow a vote, an opportunity to decide whether he or she want to support a special project for a municipality," Jordan said. "Most of our cities will dry up like the Sahara Desert in a few years unless we do something to help them out."

But several local and area legislators expressed doubts about the bill. Among them, Rep. Eric Robinson of Quitman and Sen. Gloria Williamson of Philadelphia.

"It's something that you know we've really got to consider and I'm not so sure the people that I represent, the great majority of them, would be interested in seeing a tax of any kind at this point," said Robinson of District 84.

"If they vote it in, I believe it's going to tax everybody in the county and the cities are going to benefit from it, so I'm going to have to look at that real close," said Williamson, who represents District 18.

However, District 31 Sen. Terry Burton, who introduced the bill in the senate, gave the proposal his support.

"I think it's a much better way to do business than having to depend on bond issues and property owners to pay off all the debt," Burton said.
"This way everybody shares in paying off some of the burden."