Voters to decide on hotel tax for Fulton

By Adam Armour/The Itawamba County Times

Later this year, Fulton residents will have to decide whether or not to implement a 3 percent tax on hotel stays in the city.

According to Mayor Paul Walker, the Fulton Board of Alderman has voted in favor of a proposed 3 percent “tourism” tax on lodging within the city. In theory, this is a tax that most residents should never have to pay.

The final decision as to whether or not to adopt the tax will be decided by the voters in the coming weeks. The board is expected to choose a date for a special election during its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, April 17.

The proposed tax will have to be approved by 60 percent of the city’s voters before it can go into effect.

If approved by the voters, the extra money garnered by the new tax will help fund various projects throughout the city.

The funds generated by the proposed tourism tax — estimated at approximately $50,000 to $70,000 annually — will be used to support several major projects throughout the city, including improvements to the natural gas lines in the city, especially to the downtown area and the port.

“We will put this money to good use on a number of projects,” Walker said.

This isn’t the first time the city has flirted with the idea of adopting a tourism tax; in 2010, the board planned to host a special election to let voters decide on the issue, but eventually put the issue on the backburner.

City applies for 300K grant

It seems the city of Fulton is hoping to, as the old adage states, “Spend money to make money.”

The Fulton Board of Aldermen recently voted to pursue a CBGD grant worth $300,000, which would be used to help continue the vast reworking of the city’s sewer system.

It’s a 50/50 grant, however, meaning the city will be expected to fork over $150,000 of its own. The money will be pulled from the city’s sewer account, which currently holds about $305,000. This amount is anticipated to drop significantly after the city finishes installing new lines in the Spring Street area, however, leaving only about $170,000.

Mayor Walker, who recommended the board vote in favor of pursuing the grant, said that the opportunity to bolster the city’s sewer account with $150,000 shouldn’t be passed.

“Any grants that are out there, I recommend the board try to go out and get them,” Walker said.

The board approved Walker’s suggestion and has begun the application process. According to the mayor, should Fulton be selected to receive the grant, but for some reason be unable to match the 50 percent required, the grant will simply go to another city.