A ‘yes’ vote is a vote for Pascagoula’s future

A man rests in the shade of a gazebo at the Pascagoula Lighthouse Park on Sunday, September 23, 2012.
A man rests in the shade of a gazebo at the Pascagoula Lighthouse Park on Sunday, September 23, 2012. amccoy@sunherald.com File

Pascagoula voters should vote yes Tuesday on a 2 percent tax on prepared food.

We think that tax, which would raise up to $1.2 million a year that would be earmarked for recreation, is a sound investment. The money raised will pay for bike paths as well as improvements to ball fields for Pascagoula’s children, soccer fields and the skate park.

There are also ambitious plans for new recreational facilities.

All those are quality-of-life amenities that would make Pascagoula an even more attractive place to live. And right now, Pascagoula is losing population. It has about 5,000 fewer people than it had before Hurricane Katrina.

Competition is tough. Pascagoula is surrounded by cities with much to offer in the way of recreation. But Pascagoula also has the Pascagoula River, which remains for many an undiscovered gem in the world of eco-tourism.

We, and the backers of the tax, believe the burden of the tax will fall largely on the people who visit rather than live in Pascagoula.

The tax would add $2 to a $100 food tab. Visitors will neither notice nor be chased off by such a small amount.

The tax has the support of parents and recreation league officials. That’s no surprise.

But owners of some iconic Pascagoula restaurants back it, too. They are not worried the tax will hurt their businesses.

“Our research shows that similar charges in comparable cities have led to better quality of life for residents and new economic activity generated by these investments,” said Richard Chenoweth, owner of Scranton’s Restaurant and Catering as well as Magnolia Bed and Breakfast. “Most of those demonstrated benefits come back to local restaurants, stores and gas stations by way of visitors and new residents.”

This election has been well below the radar and turnout will likely be very low. Supporters will be out knocking on doors, making phone calls and otherwise scrounging for every vote on this important issue.

There is no organized opposition but a certain number of people will vote no on any tax increase. Those who believe in the value of parks and recreation and the future of Pascagoula must overcome those votes.

We urge you to take the time to get to the polls and support this tax.

The editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.