Business owners share mixed feelings on 1% tax increase

Business owners share mixed feelings on 1% tax increase

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hattiesburg restaurants and hotels will raise their sales tax by 1 percent, but not everyone is on board with the change.

Tuesday night, 81% of Hattiesburg residents that voted, voted in favor of the increase.

However, several restaurant owners WDAM spoke to say they are against the increase.

“I feel like if there is a 1 percent tax increase then that should be allocated to needs that are necessary in Hattiesburg more along the lines of the police department, the school system, and the brown water issue that we have in the city,” said one business owner that chose to stay anonymous.

Several other restaurant owners WDAM spoke with, that also declined to speak on camera, shared similar concerns.

“There seems to be other uses for a 1 percent tax increase as opposed to what I would consider beautification projects,” said the anonymous business owner. “I don’t think that the hotel and the restaurants industry should have to responsible for footing that bill, basically.”

However, others disagree.

Kelsey Barret, director of sales with Hotel Indigo, said they are in full support of the increase.

“We’re real excited,” said Barrett. “We think that its definitely going to benefit some of the parks and recreational facilities in Hattiesburg, will promote tourism, and then flow down through the line and promote our hotels.”

Viewers online also shared conflicting thoughts on the tax referendum.

So, WDAM decided to do the math on the election. A total of 3,185 people voted in the election, with 81 percent voting in favor for the increase. Hattiesburg has a population of 45,989, according to the 2010 Census.

“I think you kind of have to look at the bigger picture versus the extra 1 percent that’s on your bill at the end of your meal,” said Barrett.

While some think 1 percent is not much, others think it could negatively effect business.

“If somebody lives in Petal, 1 percent is not that big of a deal, but that makes it 3 percent extra they’re paying to dine out where as opposed they can save 3 percent by staying local in their town.”

There’s currently a 2 percent restaurant and hotels tax which is used to fund the Hattiesburg Convention Commission.

Half of the revenue from the tax increase will go toward parks and recreation projects, and the other half would be used for renovations to Reed Green Coliseum.

The increase will go in effect June 1.

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