Clinton asks voters to raise sales tax on restaurant bills. Here’s why

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Nearly 90 cities in Mississippi use a 2% surcharge on restaurant tabs to help fund their leisure and tourism facilities.

Clinton hopes to be one of those who will come after Tuesday’s vote.

With the approval of the Mississippi legislature, Clinton will hold an election on Tuesday that needs 60% of the vote to approve.

Funds will go towards improving existing facilities and fields, creating walking and cycling trails, purchasing new playground equipment, improving lighting in fields and parks, improving or constructing restrooms and pavilions, constructing or improving new concession stands, and adding more tennis and pickleball courts. and more.

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Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher said he’s long wanted to push more money toward recreational facilities, but being next door to Jackson made crime a more priority.

“The reason it doesn’t exist is because we don’t have the money for it,” Fisher said. “Our $17 million budget is being used as efficiently as possible. We are using a lot for public safety — adding 30 slots to our public safety and adding a full-time judge adds significantly to the budget, but we feel these expenses are going to the right places”

Fischer said Clinton recently raised the street-paving budget to $1.3 million.

“And frankly, if I had an extra $100,000 in the next budget, I would allocate it to police officers,” Fisher said. “The reality of crime in Jackson is as one of the most violent cities in America if not the world we live in.”

Having said that, Fisher said Clinton needs to upgrade her recreational facilities and believes a 2% tax is a way to meet those needs.

“People, rightly, just want upgrades and improvements in recreational facilities and quality-of-life opportunities,” Fisher said. “We are in competition with other societies whether you want to think about it or not. People go to other places and see things, and when they come back, they wonder why we don’t have it.”

If the measure passes at the polls Tuesday, Fisher says every metro city except Madison will have some type of restaurant tax to help fund recreational facilities.

“Anytime you do something in parks and recreation, it’s very expensive and can take away from something else,” Fisher said. “In a lot of cases, a 50% match is required when trying to get a grant for things.”

Fisher hopes to raise about $1 million a year in tax. If the city could raise money through similar grants, that could amount to nearly $2 million annually.

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“The driveway built near Arrow Drive cost $750,000, and it was without lights,” Fisher said. Half of that for matching purposes is $325,000. So we can’t really do these kinds of things without a steady source of money.”

If approved by the voters, the tax expires within four years. At this point, Clinton could have another vote to continue the tax on funding.

“I think that’s great because if the government keeps its promise and does what it says, I think people will continue to pass it on,” Fisher said. If the government does not keep its promise and uses the money for other sources, the people have the right to vote for it. It couldn’t be more fair than that.”

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If approved, the 2% surcharge is only for meals purchased at restaurants in Clinton. The sales tax on groceries, clothing and other goods will remain at 7%.

“To be safe, we’ll wait a year before spending anything to make sure we know the right amount,” Fisher said. “Then we will start the grant process to double the amount raised from 2%. As we raise 2% more money during the first year, we will meet with groups of interested citizens for community input. This process will determine the types of projects we will build.”

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