Representative Toby Barker speaks out on Hattiesburg sales tax

Published: Mar. 21, 2014 at 9:32 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Several representatives are butting heads over how the city of Hattiesburg plans to pay for a 140 million dollar waste-water treatment facility.

Representative Toby Barker said he believes it should go into the hands of the people.

"As an elected official, I have absolutely no problem letting the people I represent vote on an issue," said Barker.

Other legislators disagree, a second committee chairman came out against the proposed sales tax increase.

Representative Joe Warren of Mt. Olive, Chairman of the House Private and Local Legislation Committee, told reporters the resolution will die in his committee. This comes on the heels of the SEnate Chairman of the Local and Private Committee Perry Lee, who said last week the resolution will not be brought up for a vote this session.

However, representative Toby Barker said residents are concerned about where the money will go and how it will be spent.

"I think it's a fair request to see our city make some progress on some of these other issues before our citizens are asked to make another sacrifice through a one percent sales tax," said Barker.

According to Representative Warren, lawmakers have only approved two general sales tax increases in the last 35 years and those came with very strict guidelines, but Barker said this is a rare situation.

"This is probably the largest infrastructure investment that we will make in our generation, and we've known that this decision had to be made," said Barker.

Barker noted the Hattiesburg Municipal Governing Body's working relationship.

"And what we need right now is for our local leaders and our state leaders to come together and try to make some progress and try to be on one accord on this issue. And that's what citizens need to see out of our city right now is a functional government," said Barker.

Mayor Johnny DuPree told reporters on Friday that he encouraged the legislative delegation to allow the people they represent to determine the future.

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