Cooperation will be crucial in getting park built

Published 1:00 am Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mr. Mayor, you are listening, and that’s a good thing.

Agreements are starting to be realized in the continuing saga of a recreation complex in Vicksburg and Warren County. Much is left to be done, still, but at least there appears to be movement in the right direction.

Vicksburg Mayor Paul Winfield on Monday gave more details about where a park could be built — he unveiled two tracts, one on U.S. 61 North just north of River Region Medical Center and the other adjacent to Warren Central High School on Mississippi 27.

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He also showed that he is willing to find alternative funding sources after a pushback from the tourism industry over his proposed increase in sales taxes on food and beverages and motel stays.

His new plan would be to add ½ percent or 1 percent to the general sales tax paid by all people in Warren County.

Sales tax in Mississippi is 7 percent. In addition, Vicksburg has a 1 percent tax on food and beverages — money dedicated to tourism — and a 2 percent tax on hotels. Winfield earlier called for increases for both of those taxes to fund the recreation complex.

On Monday, Winfield showed he is listening to the naysayers.

Now he says he would like to add a ½ percent or 1 percent tax on all retail sales in the city and across Warren County to fund the park. He estimates that the tax would generate $2.5 million or $5 million per year.

No perfect solutions exist, and the need for a modern recreation complex in this county is great. The money will have to be raised somehow and it should be a collaborative effort between county and city to figure out how and where. Winfield is pushing a 10- to 14-member committee to locate a site and develop a plan. We hope those chosen will all be on the same page.

A sports complex will benefit everyone in this county — and everyone should be involved in getting it built.