Not long ago wife Danny and I spent the weekend at the Ross Barnett Reservoir house and decided to invite our daughter, Rachel-Johanna who lives in Jackson, to meet us at a sushi place in Flowood for Sunday lunch. She did, we had a great visit, and before long it was time to pick up the tab and head back to Sebastopol.
I looked at the total on the bill, added a tip, and handed over my American Express card to the waiter. I didn’t check the price of our meals, the price of our drinks, and certainly not the amount of the tax. I have never checked the tax on a meal in Forest, or Sebastopol, or Jackson, or in that particular case Flowood, or anywhere else.
But, you know what? Flowood adds a tourism tax. That has never deterred me from dining out there, or have I ever even thought about it for that matter.
Flowood has some outstanding public facilities. Beautiful well kept parks with of plenty of lighting for safety, and clean restrooms, and walking trails that meander though the woods in the middle of the city. Kind of a mini Central Park like in New York City.
Same goes for Brandon. Like Flowood they have a spectacular sports complex with modern ball fields, great lighting, parking...the works. You know what? When you go out to get a hamburger in Brandon you pay a tourism tax. I doubt you ever look at the bill and complain about a couple cents extra for the burger.
I seriously doubt that when you hop in the car and head to Pearl to the Outlet Mall — not shopping at home by the way — and then stop off at a Brandon restaurant for dinner, you ever think about the fact that you are paying a tourism tax.
If you head north on Highway 35 to Starkville or Oxford for a ball game this fall, and stop off at the Kentucky Fried Chicken in Carthage for a bucket to go, you’ll pay a tourism tax at the check out and it will help fund parks and ball fields and all those nice things in that town.
The point is we are all paying tourism taxes almost anywhere we go outside of Scott County whether we buy a burger, fries and a coke, or steak, baked potato, salad and a glass of Chardonnay followed by apple pie for dessert. In doing so we are helping fund all the nice facilities for the residents of Brandon, or Flowood, or Carthage, and lots of other places too.
We’re helping them improve their ball fields so that they can have bigger and better tournaments, that bring bigger, hungry crowds to town that shop their stores, stay in their hotels, and eat at their restaurants, which in turn ads more and more dollars, in the form of tourism taxes, to their coffers.
Why shouldn’t Forest do the same thing? Why can’t Forest charge a couple of pennies more on food and drink to go toward improving Gaddis Park and the Bo Clark complex? Why not?
I dare say that not one person among us looks at our receipt in these other towns and says to ourself, “aw man, I just paid 20 cents extra on that $10 meal. That’s right, if the voters of Forest pass the proposed tourism tax on Tuesday it will only mean paying an extra 20 cents on a $10 meal. Two dollars on a hundred. We’ll never miss it.
We certainly never miss it when we’re handing it over to the youth of the surrounding towns on a regular basis.
It’s just a little bit, but it adds up and before long we could be seeing major improvements to our current facilities and very possibly new facilities to boot.
Granted no one likes to pay more for anything. Last month in a New York City airport I paid a little more than a $100 for a small four cheese pizza and two glasses of wine. I did look at that bill real close. But you know what, I didn’t pay any attention to the taxes.
Put your money where your mouth is on Tuesday and mark the top spot on the ballot. Mark “for the tax.”