(Editor’s Note: The following is a response to a column which appeared on the Opinion/Editorial Page in the Tuesday edition of the DeSoto Times-Tribune on the subject of a call for a referendum on the Penny for the Parks issue.)
I certainly welcome a referendum as I want what the majority of our people want, but it is fair to note that many of our citizens ask me why we would vote again for an issue that has been voted upon twice already and passed both times.
I also have concerns about a few of our legislators that have stated that they do not oppose the tax revenue as long as a new referendum occurs, while voting to the contrary in the last legislative session for bills for the same tourism taxes in other cities that included a new referendum (HB 1507). It appears that these legislators are more concerned about a voting record consistent with a political agenda than listening to economic facts and doing what is best for the City of Southaven. It is very disheartening that these people who we count on to represent us are politicizing a very important revenue source for our city. It’s time they be forthcoming with the people of Southaven and state if they support this revenue source or not, instead of hiding behind a new referendum to preserve their political agenda.”
Now, the following statements in this letter that are incorrect: The 2011 ballot clearly states that Park “operations” and improvements were approved even though the City has used the money for improvements.
We can show to the penny how the revenue has been spent which are qualified expenditures and many were promoted on the 2010 promotional video. The video was made before a repeal date was added in 2011 which slowed the progress as we were forced to complete projects with cash and debt-free.
Low voter turnout is not uncommon in any election. The referendums were advertised according to state law and publicized in numerous other articles over a two-year period as well as public speeches and promotional materials by the City’s administration at that time, again over a two-year period since two elections occurred. Many elected officials, including some of our legislators, only received a comparable number of votes. Does that make these elections illegitimate?
I’m stunned that a conservative organization would suggest that the City does not need the revenue as other Park facilities were built before this tax became effective. The other facilities were built with debt and significant property tax millage increases. For example, Snowden Park was funded by a 20-year multi-million dollar bond and millage rates increased by more than 20 mills from 1999 to 2011. I want to reduce debt and keep property tax rates stable. Again, why would this conservative organization suggest that we increase debt and property tax rates when we can fund Park projects with revenue paid largely by visitors to our city?
Finally, I question how an organization can support the principle of larger governments yielding to more local governments and not see that this is exactly what is occurring with state legislators refusing to support a unanimous resolution from Southaven’s Board of Aldermen who is the official legislative body of the City.