Tax fiasco proves we need change

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 18, 2008

The failure of the city to get the proposed hotel tax through the Mississippi legislature presents a good example of why we need new leadership — from top to bottom — at City Hall.

Rather than reach agreement with all stakeholders on an amount of tax everyone could live with, the city charged ahead with its $2 per night proposal. It’s yet another example of the imperious way our current mayor and board of aldermen operate. Not surprisingly, the plan attracted opposition once it got to the legislature, where approval was required.

The hotel tax is an important step in generating the funds needed to market Natchez. We are in a transition to a tourism economy, and government, business and residents must focus on attracting and then satisfying travelers. If we don’t do a better job of selling Natchez, it will continue to be “the best kept secret in the South.”

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We need leadership to get people with different interests and sometimes competing agendas to come together in a unified effort. This seems to be an alien notion in local government here. In this case, the aldermen passed an ordinance that rammed a tax down the throats of the Isle of Capri and others. It’s the classic case of winning the battle only to lose the war.

In addition to being about arrogance, this story also is about ineptitude. Where was the city lobbyist when this bill was going down the tubes? Who is supervising and communicating with him?

Natchez needs to increase its hotel tax and dedicate that money for tourism marketing — not throw it into the general fund. Even if the tax is saved at the 11th hour in Jackson, the episode underscores the need for change in city government.

Bill Furlow

Natchez resident