Legislators weigh in on potential Hattiesburg sales tax

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - The Hattiesburg City Council is expected to vote on a resolution at Tuesday's meeting to send to the Mississippi Legislature that will ask for a one percent sales tax referendum in Hattiesburg.

The resolution must have the approval of both chambers before it is presented to the voters of the city, but several area legislators have said they will not support the measure.

"Only the people inside the city limits of Hattiesburg get to vote yes or no, we want to be taxed more or not" said Senator Billy Hudson (R- Dist. 45). "What about the people outside the city limits that live in Forrest County, Perry County, the surrounding counties that spend money in Hattiesburg? If the mayor will figure out a way to let all my constituents that spend money in Hattiesburg vote on this thing then I'm quite willing to support him and help him and let the will of the people be done."

Representative Larry Byrd (R- Dist. 104) said that while he does not support a tax increase, he does want the voters' voices to be heard in order for them to make their own decision on the possible tax.

"Home rule- local folks best govern themselves, and if that's what they want to do, then I'm not going to stand in the way of it," said Byrd. "But I would like to discourage them from it. It's a tax increase, plain and simple."

Representative Toby Barker (R- Dist. 102) has also said that getting approval from the legislature will be difficult.

"Even in good times, it is a difficult road to travel," said Barker. "Until the mayor and the council can agree, it is going to be impossible."

The sales tax increase is Mayor Johnny DuPree's proposal for revenue to support the operating costs of the city's new land application wastewater treatment system. The mayor said Thursday the projected revenue will be approximately ten million dollars, which should offset some of the costs of the sewer rate increase.

Mayor DuPree vetoed the council's 3-2 decision Thursday to increase sewer rates, but council president Kim Bradley said he anticipates the council making an attempt Tuesday to override that veto, which would require a 4-1 vote.

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