JACKSON — While many people are celebrating the state telecommunications board’s overcoming another hurdle for the long-anticipated building of the $17.5-million Mississippi Telecommunications Conference and Training Center, others are insisting it’s a case of “the cart before the horse.”
One primary reason for concern: even though legislation specifies that the center must be self-sustaining, it is expected to lose $350,000 in its first year, an amount that the MetroJackson Convention & Visitors Bureau has agreed to cover. The city’s 1% hotel and restaurant tax that feeds the CVB would then be unavailable for other special projects that could make Jackson a year-round destination city. Rumors are already circulating that Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. wants to raise the local restaurant and hotel tax to 2%, which would allow for a much larger deficit to be covered. The restaurant tax would not affect only travelers, but anyone in Jackson who buys prepared food.
The Jackson City Council has agreed to cover shortfalls above and beyond what the CVB cannot. By law, tax revenues — from the state’s general fund and 75
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