Senate OKs extending Jackson's possible sales tax

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — The Mississippi Senate has passed a bill that would extend a possible special 1-cent local sales tax for the city of Jackson until 2032.

Sen. John Horhn, a Democrat from Jackson, says the bill refines a 2009 law, which first granted the city the authority to hold an election on the tax increase. The city has yet to hold the referendum.

The 2009 law specified the money could be spent on water and sewer lines, road maintenance or law enforcement. The bill that was approved Thursday would direct all the money to infrastructure. The bill removes a 2014 expiration date for the law.

City officials say they expect the penny tax could raise $15 million to $20 million a year. Horhn said the tax wouldn’t be applied to restaurants, groceries or telecommunications.

The local bill, which passed 38-9, now heads to the House.

House Ways and Means Chairman Percy Watson, D-Hattiesburg, said he supports the bill, which must pass his committee.

Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, spoke against the bill, saying it opens the door for a local option sales tax for every city in the state.

“This is the most far-reaching piece of legislation you will consider at this legislature. This is the local option sales tax back again. Back wearing a different outfit,” Bryan said. “You’re not going to say ‘no’ to Ridgeland after you say ‘yes’ to Jackson.”

For years, the Mississippi Municipal League has unsuccessfully pushed a proposal to give voters an opportunity to decide whether to raise taxes to pay for projects that could range from infrastructure to economic development. The revenue would be earmarked for those projects, and after a specified number of years the tax would be repealed.

But Horhn said the bill is specific to Jackson.

“There’s only one community with a population in excess of 150,000, and that’s what this legislation speaks to,” Horhn said.

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The bill is Senate Bill 2839.