Starkville city leaders explain one percent tax proposal

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI)- On May 30, Starkville residents will vote on the proposed one percent tax on local hotels and restaurants.

Many in Starkville have raised questions about whether or not the one percent tax is the right move for the city at this time.

City officials said it’s not a matter of picking and choosing what needs to be fixed in Starkville, but rather taking advantage of an opportunity when it presents its self.

Sports tourism is why some Starkville city leaders have pushed to improve, expand, and construct park facilities.

They said it’s an opportunity that Starkville is currently missing out on.

“In this past year, we’ve had so much rain. It’s been difficult for us to keep those tournaments going,” said Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill.

Starkville Parks and Rec Director Gerry Logan said building new turf facilities will keep sporting events going during all types of weather and boost the local economy.

“You look at these fields, and you’ve got hundreds, if not thousands, of people showing up for these sports tournaments. Well, they play a couple of hours a day for their teams, but when they aren’t here, they’re stopping at the gas station right down the road and getting some gas, getting a Dr. Pepper or a Coke or some chips. They’re going out to Oby’s and Bin 612 and Tyler, you know. They’re going to the movie theater while they’re here,” said Logan.

“You will be spending an extra penny on every dollar that you spend, so if you spend $1.00 for a sausage biscuit in the morning, you’ll be spending $1.10 instead of $1.09,” said Spruill.

With the new renovations comes a brand new state of the art facility.

“Yes, Cornerstone Park with a tournament facility, but also a new facility for our recreational play. That’s what you hear about first. That’s the bright and shiny object, but we also want to renovate what we have here behind us now. We want to add soccer fields to our Starkville Sportsplex and be able to renovate and also be able to renovate McKee Park, so it’s more of an open space park– a great place to bring your family even more so than it already is,” said Logan.

Some people want to know why the city isn’t using the money for other projects like repairing roads, but that’s not how the state legislature set up the proposed tax.

“This is strictly for parks. If you don’t vote for it, and it doesn’t pass, there won’t be any additional funding. It’ll just go away,” said Spruill.

This plan needs 60% of the votes to pass. If not, city leaders said it could be a long time before another opportunity arises.

“I don’t think we would have to necessarily go back to the legislature for it, but we would have to go through the process of passing a resolution again and gearing up for a whole new election and that’s costly,” said Spruill.

“People that are visiting town for this are going to help pay for it. That’s another thing. It’s not just the burden of the residents. It’s these people that come in town for these tournaments by going out to eat and staying in hotels. They’re going to help fund it,” said Logan.

Starkville residents can vote yes or no on the referendum on May 30 at their normal voting precincts.

Absentee voting is taking place this Saturday and next Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the City Clerk’s office.

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