Jackson County

After first vote fails, Pascagoula holding second election on new tax

Jose Ocasio, 5, spends a Sunday afternoon riding his bike along the paths of IG Levy Memorial Park in Pascagoula on September 23, 2012.
Jose Ocasio, 5, spends a Sunday afternoon riding his bike along the paths of IG Levy Memorial Park in Pascagoula on September 23, 2012. amccoy@sunherald.com File

The city is going to try again to set a 2 percent tax on prepared food.

The City Council decided Tuesday night to take another shot at the tax that would be added to bills in the city’s restaurants, fast-food establishments and delis. It does not include groceries.

The city attorney was ordered to get the city ready for a special election on Nov. 1. The first election cost the city about $11,000.

An election last week failed to get the 60 percent of votes it needed to pass the tax. About 1,350 voted and 56 percent were for the extra tax.

The tax would add two cents per dollar on a restaurant bill and raise $800,000 to $1.2 million that would go exclusively to pay for improvements to city recreation.

It’s a user tax that supporters see as a way of letting people who live outside Pascagoula, but eat in the city during the work day, help pay for recreation for people who live there.

City spokeswoman Ravin Floyd said the council was unanimous in the decision to try again.

This will give the city more time to take the issue to the residents, Floyd said.

Some reasons:

▪  The city got a lot of calls from people who didn’t know the election was happening.

▪  Some complained the issue was not explained well.

▪  There was some confusion as to how the money raised by the tax would be spent.

▪  There was confusion over where to vote. The city used city locations and not county polling places.

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