City Leaders Push for Option

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Bay St. Louis Mayor Eddie Favre, president of the Mississippi Municipal League, told lawmakers the additional sales tax would hold down future property tax increases.

"The idea that when you have a sales tax in most communities throughout the state, if not in all of them, part of that bill is being paid by the tourists that come in," said Favre. "Not just people from outside the city, but people from outside the state are coming in to pay part of that tax bill. Right now with property taxes your local people pay 100 percent of the bill."

The tax could be up to three quarters of one percent, dedicated to a specific project and not applicable to food or drugs. It would end when the project was paid for. It would require 60 percent local approval to pass.

Mayor Yvonne Brown of Tchula, Miss., spoke about the issue in Meridian this week. She also chairs the legislative committee for the Black Mayor's Conference.

"We're going to keep pushing for it," Brown said. "They need to give the people a choice. It's a temporary tax, not permanent, to help places like us."

But Rep. Greg Snowden told local officials Monday that the bill likely won't have the support it needs this year. He cited comments by House Speaker Billy McCoy when the bill was introduced.

"McCoy was good naturedly, I think, saying one, you're not going to find much support in this chamber for that, and two, I'm one of those who's not supporting it," said Snowden.

Snowden said Gov. Barbour has not pledged to support the bill although he did say he would sign it if the legislature put it on his desk.

With Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith out of state Wednesday, comptroller Ed Skipper represented Meridian at the meeting. He reported that members of the Ways and Means Committee listened, said little and promised to give the bill consideration.