Time looks right for special tax

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 6, 2000

The last time a special sales tax on hotels and restaurants inBrookhaven was proposed, it was soundly defeated. The proceeds forthe tax were to go to a proposed civic center and tourismdevelopment.

Opponents of the special tax ranged from local restaurants andhotels, afraid the added tax would drive away customers, to localresidents unhappy with the thought of paying a few extra cents fora cup of coffee.

Hotel owners were especially concerned that an additional taxwould give customers another reason to drive to McComb, where theydo not have such a tax. Hotel managers said they were already at adisadvantage by not being able to serve liquor or wine, and anadditional tax would be detrimental to their business.

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The idea of a special sales tax is again being floated, thistime only as a lodging tax for those who stay at Brookhaven motels.The 2% tax is estimated to raise $60,000 per year and would be usedto help fund the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commercemarketing and economic development efforts.

The chamber is seeking the approval of the city to have thenecessary legislation drawn up so the tax can be approved by thelegislature during the 2001 session.

With the opening of the Mississippi School of Arts coming in thenext 12 months, there is no doubt the occupancy rate at localhotels will climb as parents of students attending the school visitour area. Those added visitors mean additional dollars forBrookhaven to promote our area as a retirement community.

While we share the concern of local hotel managers, we have tothink the timing may be right to add the tax and that the moneyspent to promote our county will increase the occupancy of ourlocal hotels.

Across the state, 46 other communities have added a similar taxand are using the proceeds to build their communities. Brookhavenand Lincoln County need to be able to do match those efforts if wewish to compete.