Tuesday meeting to discuss tax increase

     A public forum is scheduled Tuesday afternoon to discuss increasing Grenada’s Tourism tax on prepared food, alcohol, and motel rooms.

     The current tax is one percent on food and alcohol, and two percent on motel rooms. The state legislature has authorized the Grenada City Council to set an election requesting voters to authorize raising the tax to two percent on prepared food and alcohol and three percent on motel rooms.

     The City Council has not yet set the date for that election. In order for the tax increase to pass, 60% of those voting must vote in favor of the increase.

     According to Gary Worsham, executive director of the Grenada Tourism Commission, the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to “make a presentation and answer any questions about the referendum that the people may have.”

 The current Grenada tourism tax has netted about $10 million.

     Under the current law, passed in 1992, half of the revenue goes to operate the Grenada Tourism Commission, and the other half is designated in the current law to “be placed in an interest bearing tourism escrow fund for the construction, financing and operation of a convention center or other use that may promote tourism as determined by the city of Grenada.”

     According to Mississippi State Tax Commission, the current law has produced $9.039 million since 1995. (Revenue figures for the three years prior to 1995 are not available.)

     City sources say most of the city’s portion of the revenue has been going to operate the Dogwoods golf course.

Under the new law, 100% of the increased revenue would go to the city to construct a sports park.

     The law states the tax revenue increase “shall not be considered by the city as general fund revenue but shall be dedicated to and used by the city solely for the purpose of constructing, financing and operating a sports park.”

     Along with Tourism Director Worsham, City Manager Trey Baker and Grenada County Economic Development Executive Director Matthew Harrison are also slated to be at tonight’s discussion.

     “We want to hear what the public says,” Worsham said. “We are inviting everyone to come out and give testimonies as to what they think about the sports complex.”

The Tuesday, July 17 meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. at the Jas. Cuff Building on the south side of the Public Square.

See Editorials on this subject in the Opinion Section of GrenadaStar.com