House OKs higher tourism tax

Staff Writer

The proposed tourism tax increase has passed in the State House of Representatives and now awaits a vote in the state senate.
According to Gary Worsham, Grenada’s executive director of tourism, the House Bill 1563 passed Friday morning 96-9 and will now head to the Senate.
Worsham called the passing of the house bill great news.
“I went down there to see it for myself and met with Sen. Lydia Chassaniol,” Worsham said. “I’m thrilled that it passed in the house, and we’re staying on top of this.”
Last week, Chassaniol said the bill will likely go before the Senate this week.
The bills are for the City of Grenada to authorize levying of an additional tax on hotels/motels, restaurant customers and bars and extend the repealer on tourism tax, which would bring a one percent increase on each.
The new tax will be two percent on restaurants and three percent on motel room rentals.
The current law, which sunsets Sept. 30, 2018, charges one percent on restaurants and two percent on motels.
In 2016, Grenada collected $501,500 in tourism taxes. Of that $146,340 was collected through the one percent restaurant tax and $355,160 through the two percent hotel tax.
Fifty percent of the total tax proceeds goes to the city and 50 percent goes to the Grenada Tourism Commission.
The tourism commission projects that the proposed increase would produce a total of $929,830; $710,320 from restaurant sales and $219,510 from motels.
Worsham and City Manager Baker have pushed for the proposal since the fall and have shared the idea throughout the community.
Resolutions of support have already been passed by the county board of supervisors and the City of Grenada with both boards voting unanimously in favor.
According to Worsham, about 75 percent of the tourism offices in Mississippi charge a two percent tax on restaurants.

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