Lawmakers need to pass local lodging tax bill

Published 9:02pm Saturday, March 15, 2014

Hernando, Brookhaven’s sister city way up north near the Tennessee state line, appears to be headed toward a referendum on a 2 percent sales tax on hotels, motels and restaurants after the state legislature sent a local and private bill on the matter to Gov. Phil Bryant to sign last week.

Brookhaven has a similar measure pending in the legislature – House Bill 1507. The local legislation was initiated after Brookhaven aldermen voted to petition the legislature to allow the implementation of a 3 percent tax on stays in hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments within the city. Brookhaven’s version of the bill does not include restaurants.

The local bill passed the House but has been modified by lawmakers to a 2 percent tax, according to Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto. “The legislative process has been not to go over 2 percent [on these bills] in recent years,” Moak said.

As of Thursday, the measure had been doubly referred to the Senate Local and Private Legislation Committee and Senate Finance Committee.

If the Senate goes on to join the House in passing the bill and the governor signs it, then at least 60 percent of voters participating in an upcoming election would have to approve the measure before it would take effect.

City officials say the tax will bring in much-needed revenue that could be used for marketing events in the community. Other towns, like Natchez and McComb, are already reaping the benefits of such a tax.

We urge the legislature to move forward with Brookhaven’s hotel tax, as they already have with Hernando’s similar bill. The income from the hotel tax will be a shot in the arm for our region, which, as articles in today’s Progress 2014 edition in The Daily Leader attest, is already primed for growth.

A surge of revenue from the lodging tax would be just the boost we need to kick start the already-building momentum.