MML-MAS Pitch Local Option

At a news conference at the Capitol, the Mississippi Municipal League and the Mississippi Association of Supervisors called on voters to support candidates who would approve the ''Mississippi Optional Sales Tax'' Bill, or MOST.

"So what we're saying is, allow the cities that wish to do this have the opportunity to do so," said Sen. David Jordan, a member of the Senate Municipalities Committee.

If the MOST bill passed the state legislature, then cities could put the measure to a public vote. It would require 60 percent approval to pass.

"Whether you talk about some of the smallest communities in the state of Mississippi or the largest, we all have needs that we cannot meet because of the limited resources that we have," said Mayor Gene McGee of the Mississippi Municipal League.

The MAS has also asked for a share of sales taxes collected within county borders.

"We could use it to retire a capital improvement debt as well as develop a new capital improvement project," said Lauderdale County supervisor Jimmie Smith, who is also second vice-president of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors.

One item that comes to mind is our jail. That jail could be paid off within a year's time as opposed to having to do it over several years." The taxes might also go toward civic centers, new police cars and other similar needs.

Cities and counties have lobbied unsuccessfully for over a decade, trying to persuade state lawmakers to allow communities to vote on this type of tax that would be paid by travelers as well as residents.

A three-quarter cent proposal died in the 2003 legislature, but cities and supervisors plan to be back in Jackson in January 2004.