Mississippi mayors are once again imploring lawmakers to allow cities and counties to raise sales taxes on themselves. MPB's Paul Boger reports civic leaders believe the tax is the only way they'll be able to fix their cities crumbling infrastructure.
More than 25 Mississippi mayors and civic leaders stood in the rotunda of the Capitol yesterday, in an effort to push lawmakers into passing the Citizens for Economic Development Act -- or CEDA. A bill that would allow municipalities to levy an additional one percent sales tax for specific projects like roads and water lines.
Tommy Irwin is the Mayor of Corinth and the legislative liaison for the Mississippi Municipal League -- the group that is pushing for CEDA. He says the only way the state will be able to attract more economic development is by improving Mississippi's infrastructure.
"The top leadership in Mississippi has got to realize if you're selling economic development we've got to fix these communities." said Irwin. "I was in industry my entire working career; came back home and my community was in terrible shape. Everybody wants jobs. If you don't have your community looking good, you're not going to have the me of yester-year bringing jobs to you community. The better a community looks the better opportunity you have for investment."
Cities have get permission from the legislature to create local option sales tax. If lawmakers pass the bill, sity leaders will still have to get approval from sixty percent of their voters to levy a tax. State Representative Tom Miles of Forest says any legislation that allows residents to vote on a tax is good thing.
"It puts it back in the hands of the voters themselves." said Miles. "They can vote for it or they can vote against it. Anytime you have people involved with government, and give them the opportunity to do something whether they are for it or against it is always a good thing."
However, Representative Andy Gipson of Braxton will be voting against the local tax option. He worries the passage of CEDA will have ramifications on a statewide level.
"It has good intentions, but I think the same result by any local community through a private local and committee process." said Gipson. "It will apply only in that area as opposed to across the state. As a general rule I vote against tax increases, and this could be a really big increase across the whole state."
This isn't the first time the local optional sales tax has been brought before the legislature. According to a spokesperson the municipal league has tried to pass the CEDA or bills like it for the past 15 legislative sessions.