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Natchez aldermen undecided on increasing hotel tax
from Staff Reports - NEWS
February 15, 2018 - ListenUpYall.com

By John Mott Coffey

NATCHEZ, Miss. – City aldermen put off a decision Tuesday on whether to ask for the state Legislature’s permission to increase the tax on Natchez hotel guests.

Mayor Darryl Grennell wants the new lodging tax to generate additional revenues that could be used to enhance a variety of city services and infrastructure, such as law enforcement and sidewalks, that would benefit Natchez residents as well as visitors. However, the Legislature will allow such local taxes only for recreational, tourism or economic development purposes, said city attorney Bob Latham.

As proposed by the mayor, the lodging tax would be on top of the current levy: a 3 percent sales tax on motels, hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns plus a $2-a-day “heads-on-beds” tax on those who stay there. Latham said the Legislature would allow just an additional 1.5 percent tax that would have to be approved by Natchez voters before being imposed. Grennell has stressed that Natchez taxpayers would not bear the burden of the higher rate.

The mayor and aldermen Tuesday said they’ll talk later with area legislators about filing a bill to increase the Natchez tax.

An additional 1.5 percent hotel tax would generate about $256,000 a year, Latham said. While the revenues couldn’t be specifically earmarked for the Natchez Police Department or city infrastructure as Grennell wanted, it could indirectly free up funds to be shifted for those uses, he said.

In addition to the current hotel tax, the city also imposes a 1.5 percent tax on restaurants and bars to generate funds to promote tourism and pay off debts from building the convention center. The taxes in total generated about $1.7 million in fiscal 2017, according to the state Department of Revenue.




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