Voters to decide on food and beverage tax in Meridian

Published: Aug. 9, 2016 at 5:26 PM CDT
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Next week Meridian voters will decide whether to add a two percent sales tax on restaurant bills to help fund a major Mississippi project in downtown Meridian.

Ground was broken late last year on the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience. Most of the money for it has already been raised. However, organizers are hoping a food and beverage sales tax will help fund the project.

Absentee voting for the proposed food and beverage tax is already underway.

The Meridian City Council favors the two percent tax increase, which will apply to prepared food and beverages at restaurants.

Money from the tax will go towards the development of the MAEE which supporters say is expected to bring in a large number of tourists.

Meridian Mayor Percy Bland says city leaders are relying on tourism to provide the dollars for the project to succeed.

"We are building a lot of momentum and a lot of energy for our city. We need this to happen because a lot of things piggyback off of big projects like this. This is a big project. They are expecting the tourism off of this to be one of the larger tourist sites in the state of Mississippi," said Bland.

Absentee voting will continue through Saturday, Aug. 13. All other registered voters living in Meridian may cast ballots Tuesday, Aug. 16, at city hall.

The referendum requires 60 percent of the vote to pass. Officials say the tax would end once the state bonds for the project are fully paid.