Tourism tax may not be needed at all

Published 12:01 am Sunday, February 17, 2008

I will respond to the invitation in The Natchez Democrat to share my opinion on the proposed tourism tax increase.

First of all, any person who wants a tax increase of any kind is pretty rare, unless it is a politician in a government position. An increase in any tax results in taking money out of the pockets of the general populace, and allowing it to be spent by our elected officials. When money comes out of my pocket for any tax increase, I want to know what I am going to get for my money, and how wisely it is being spent. As a taxpayer I believe I have that right.

Generally speaking, I want a full account of what the new taxes will be spent for, how the results will be evaluated and how will it benefit the city. I think it is time for there to be some full disclosure of how well the current tourism budget is being spent. How effective are the current tourism dollars being spent and how are the results being evaluated? If a proper evaluation is done of the current tourism budget, it just might be that these dollars could be more effectively spent and no new taxes would be necessary.

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It has been said by a few of the current tourism officials that the extra tax money is critical to market the city. It has been my observation that all too many times politicians believe the answer to problems is to throw more money at it. I believe they need to be made accountable for how well the current tourism dollars are being spent and what we are getting for our money spent on tourism.

I am not opposed to the proposed tax increase. To be honest in the overall scheme of things the increase is pretty inconsequential. My concern is how well it will be spent and what we are getting for our money, and what kind of a return is the City of Natchez getting for dollars invested in a tourism budget. Unless the current tourism officials came come up with a satisfactory answer to this question, I would say it is not needed, and I would recommend that their request be denied.

Kirk Bartley

Natchez resident