Legislators opposed to local option sales tax

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2004

NATCHEZ &045; Area legislators said no to new taxes and yes to new jobs, for the most part, at Monday morning’s chamber-sponsored breakfast.

In response to a question posed from the nearly full audience at The Castle, most of the legislators said they were against the Mississippi Optional Sales Tax Proposal.

Under the proposal, already up and running in Louisiana, the city could give its voters a chance to impose a tax upon themselves.

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With 60 percent approval a sales tax could be levied to pay for specific projects.

Reps. Philip West, Sam Mims and Chuck Middleton said they were against MOST for this area because many of the county residents do their shopping within the city limits.

&uot;It needs to be voted on by all the people in the county,&uot; West said.

Middleton questioned the amount of money the tax would raise.

&uot;I don’t think a lot of legislators want the perception that the legislature raised taxes,&uot; he said. &uot;Right now I’m against raising anybody’s taxes.&uot;

Sen. Bob Dearing said he supported MOST if the counties were included.

&uot;When living as close to Louisiana as we do, where they can put it on street improvements, hospitals or teacher salaries, I have no problem with it at all,&uot; Dearing said.

Natchez municipal officials are supporting MOST.

The legislators also said their priority was to bring jobs to southwest Mississippi.

&uot;It is the number one concern,&uot; West said. &uot;Everybody knows we need help and Natchez and Adams County is the hub of southwest Mississippi.

&uot;I’m hoping within the year there will be some good news for southwest Mississippi.&uot;

West also said legislators had met with Governor Haley Barbour and other state officials and that the state was ready to help the area in any way possible.

Other topics discussed included: 4 Pay raises for county employees and the board of supervisors. Rep. David Green said he supported these raises.

4 The likelihood that Natchez could support more than one gaming facility. West said he did not feel the area had such marketability.

4 The possibility that the state would cut the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Dearing and West expressed their support for the program.