Two tourism tax measures which will benefit Southaven and Horn Lake were overwhelmingly approved by the Mississippi State Senate on Thursday and are on their way to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.
The "Penny for the Parks" measure will mean more than $1.9 million in tourism tax revenue for the City of Southaven, and a surcharge or tax on hotel rooms in the City of Horn Lake amounts to more than $325,000 for that city.
The measures were approved earlier in the Mississippi House of Representatives.
State Sen. David Parker, R-Olive Branch, helped shepherd the bills through the Senate where it was approved without difficulty.
"I'm happy to see this get through so that we can move on to other things which are equally important," Parker said. "We put a referendum in there so if there is a move in the community to see another referendum on this it can happen."
In Southaven, the so-called "Penny for the Parks" tax was applied to restaurant meals inside the City of Southaven. In Horn Lake, the hotel-motel tax involved a $2 per night, per-occupied room to fund economic development within the city.
Parker said passage of the tourism tax measures have unintended positive impacts upon funding of other needed services, such as the freeing up of funds for the Healing Hearts Child Advocacy Center.
Parker said he was on the telephone Friday morning discussing the fact that there is now additional funding for that worthwhile agency which suffered substantial cuts last year due to the failure last legislative session to approve the tourism measures.
In essence, both cities had to cut back on line items for other agencies and services as a result of the tourism tax measure's failure to gain approval.
The City of Horn Lake, like Southaven, was in similar straits due to the legislative impasse.
"The inability to fund other things unrelated to the tourism initiatives was a trickle-down effect of that," Parker said.
In both cases, petitions with 20 percent of eligible voters, or 1,500 signatures. could force a referendum on the tax measures, either in Horn Lake or Southaven.
Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252.