Smith: "I Support Vote on Tax"

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

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Mississippi lawmakers will be asked to grant Meridian's request for a food and beverage tax bill to help fund the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center.

Mayor John Robert sSmith said Wednesday that if local taxpayers want a referendum on the issue, he will support it.

Smith said it would be what is called reverse referendum. That is, petitions would have to be filed requesting the election. If the qualifying number of signatures appears on those petitions, likely 1,500, the election would be held.

"I would certainly support taking a food and beverage tax to the public based on the specific project," said Smith. "And if the public raises enough signatures to request a vote, that is certainly their right and we will have that vote."

The proposed tax would be two percent on prepared restaurant food and beverages. The revenue would be used to help construct the Arts and Entertainment Center and then to maintain it.

The City Council would have to give the plan its approval first. Then the request would go to the local and private committee of the state Legislature for its vote.

Mayor Smith was also asked Wednesday about the city's installation of water and sewer to the new industrial park.

"It's done," said Smith. "The water lines have been charged and tested. That was done some time ago. The sewer lines have been tested. There was some repair that the contractor had to do in several places."

"I don't know whether that is complete or not, but when there's the final review and checklist, and then turned over to the city, but it could supply water today to any industry that popped out of the ground," Smith said. "There would be plenty of water there."

Smith also disclosed the new downtown parking garage is expected to be completed by late February or early March 2005.

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