Chamber issues support for sports complex 2% sales tax

Published 8:52 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

The Board of Directors of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce has announced its support for the proposed Vicksburg Sports Complex project and the proposed 2 percent sales tax to fund it.

The Chamber announced its decision in a press release Friday afternoon.

Voters will determine the fate of the 2 percent tax Tuesday in a referendum on the city’s municipal elections ballot.

Sixty percent of the voters casting ballots in the election must approve the proposal for the city to levy the tax.

If passed, the tax is expected to generate $1 million a year and would be repealed once the project is paid.

“In working to fulfill the Chamber’s mission to strengthen the business climate, economic development, and quality of life of Vicksburg and Warren County, the Chamber finds this proposal to be in the best interest of the entire community,” according to the release.

“The Chamber urges the citizenry to exercise its right to vote and to vote yes to the referendum in support of the project.”
Mark Buys, chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, said the Chamber board was consulted before issuing the statement and support for the proposal is very strong.

“The Chamber board believes the potential benefits outweigh the risks and the costs and that this project will be important to the overall quality of life and economic development initiatives for the region,” the release concludes.

“The stars are lining up and all we need is the voters to say yes,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said of the Chamber’s endorsement.

“That is great news and I applaud the Chamber for getting involved, because this sport complex, in my opinion, will give Vicksburg the economic boost it needs in tourism and in economic development at the same time,” he said.

“We’re not only building a sports complex, but we’re building a road to assist in the relief of the traffic off Halls Ferry and at the same time give ERDC (the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center) the opportunity to grow outside the gates with its expansion.”

Flaggs said the sports complex can have an economic impact of $35 million over the next five years to the local economy.

“The sports complex, Maragaritaville, the waterpark; all these things can put Vicksburg on the map like it’s never been put before, and it can be truly a tourist destination when you look at the casinos also.”

Vicksburg presently levies a 2 percent hotel tax to fund the Vicksburg Convention Center, and Warren County residents pay a special 1 percent county tax on food and beverages passed by the Legislature in 1972 to fund the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. Those taxes are in addition to the statewide 7 percent sales tax everyone pays when they buy something from a store, book a hotel room and eat a meal at a restaurant.

If the special tax passes, Flaggs said, the board will repeal the 2 percent hotel tax for the convention center and make up the difference from the general fund.

Presently, people eating in a restaurant pay 8 cents tax for every dollar they spend, a combination of the 7 percent sales tax and the 1 percent county tax. People staying in a hotel pay a total tax of 10 cents on the dollar — the combination of the state sales tax, county tax and the 2 percent convention center tax.

If the tax passes, people will pay a total sales tax of 10 cents on each dollar they spend when they eat at a restaurant or rent a hotel room.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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