In yesterday’s city council meeting, council members voted to hold a referendum on a 2 percent sales tax increase on food and beverages. The money will go towards maintenance operations for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience.
“This referendum, if passed, will provide the money for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience to function and operate. If not, we in government will have to fill in the gaps because we want this operation to succeed here in our city,” said Mayor Percy Bland.
He added, “This is a statewide project. We expect to have between 150,000 to 200,000 visitors each and every year. That activity will create more sales revenue tax for our city.”
Residents will vote on whether the sales tax, which will apply to prepared food and beverages only, goes into effect.
“The prepared food we’re talking about is for restaurants; it’s not food in the grocery store. The 2 percent tax must receive a 60 percent vote in order to go into effect, so the question is do the citizens of Meridian want to decide to have this tax,” said Dr. George Thomas, councilman for Ward one.
City council members and the mayor explained that the 2 percent tax will affect visitors to the city more so than residents.
“Most of the people who’ll end up paying for this tax will be visitors from out of town. It won’t just be our local people. At our local restaurants, most of the people who spend that money will be from people who are passing through off of our highways,” said Bland.
Both parties hope the referendum will pass. Thomas said that if it does, the 2 percent tax will be minor for customers.
“Even if you have a hundred-dollar bill at the restaurant, it costs an extra $2. Most people, if you go to a fast food restaurant, 2 percent of a ten-dollar bill is 20 cents, so it’s not a major amount."
Residents can vote on the 2 percent tax increase on August 16.