Southaven and Horn Lake’s Tourism Taxes were KILLED in the House yesterday by a landslide vote and much to the dismay of a lot of park enthusiasts. Articles posted within the last 24 hours, regarding this issue, have been titled HOUSE REVOLTS AGAINST DESOTO COUNTY. So how did a local tourism tax cause so much controversy and obtain so much pushback from legislators?
First, the tourism tax is a 1% tax placed on all restaurant sales and hotel sales within Southaven’s city limits. The 1% tourism tax for Horn Lake was only placed on hotels in their city. For example, a $50 restaurant tab generates $ .50 for the Parks and Recreation in the city. This tax is a means to generate funds for parks without having to increase property taxes.
Now, why did this issue become so controversial? In order to get the legislature (which includes all legislators from around the state) to support these local bills, a county’s delegation needs to be in an unanimous agreement on the bill. That was not the case with these bills. Five of the DeSoto House Reps were not willing to support the taxes unless a referendum was in place to allow citizens in Southaven to vote on the bill instead of having the legislature make the final decision. Citizens, the city and legislators went back and forth on this issue because there had already been two past votes on the matter, both of which passed. Local legislators that opposed the tax said that the votes were not taken during election times and very few people knew about the special elections. They wanted to see the tax be voted down altogether at the state level or passed with a referendum that would have allowed citizens to vote on it in June’s 2017 municipal elections. Other statewide Reps stated that they were tired of some of the DeSoto delegation voting down their cities’ and counties’ local tax bills, so they refused to support the DeSoto Tourism Tax bills. To make matters worse, our House delegation was not in an unanimous agreement concerning the matter, so it was a no brainer to other House members……JUST VOTE NO. (This is the short version of the story). Also should be noted that our DeSoto Senators were all supportive of the tourism taxes.
If you want to see who in the House supported these measures and who voted against them, refer to the pictures below. Whether you support the tourism taxes or are against them, reach out to your elected officials and let them know how you feel. What The People want is what The People should get. Let your voice be heard.
DeSoto House Reps: Steve Hopkins, Dana Criswell, Dan Eubanks, Jeff Hale, Bill Kinkade, Ashley Henley and Robert Foster
DeSoto Senators: Kevin Blackwell, David Parker and Chris Massey
To find your House Reps contact info, click on the following link: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/hr_membs.xml.
To find your Senators’ contact info, click on this link: http://billstatus.ls.state.ms.us/members/ss_membs.xml.
Horn Lake Tax Vote:
Southaven Tax Vote: