Tiny tourism tax has some upset

Published 12:21 am Thursday, January 31, 2008

Knowing how your money is being spent is a common principle of American consumerism.

The amount of money in question doesn’t really affect the importance. It’s all important, whether it’s just a few pennies or hundreds of thousands of dollars.

That simple fact is often lost on public officials who are out of touch with the common man or woman on the street.

Email newsletter signup

Natchez city leaders have their tax shovel out ready to collect some more money from both residents and visitors alike with a tax increase.

The tax seems tiny and simple — they always do at first — $1 per bed for every occupied hotel room in the city and an additional nickel for every $10 spent on meals in restaurants.

That tax has infuriated some residents and business owners. Casinos are upset because the word “occupied” means they might owe the tax on a room that they’ve “comped” to a guest, yet the tax is still rolling along.

The Natchez Board of Aldermen will consider the matter on Feb. 12.

If the board approves it, the tax will go before the state Legislature for approval.

But few people can tell you exactly what the new taxes would buy us.

The people pushing for the tax say the revenue will pay for additional marketing in the city. The only problem is that we’ve been told that before, then later the money was diverted to other things, namely to pay down debt.

If residents are truly to feel good about this tax and swallow it without too much fussing, the groups pushing it would be wise to show some specific ways in which the money would be spent and provide assurances that the funds won’t be routed to some other need sometime in the future.