PASCAGOULA — Jackson County voters will decide Tuesday whether to levy a 2 percent tax on hotel stays to pay the local share to support the work of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Regional Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The tri-county tourism group — encompassing Harrison, Hancock and Jackson counties — was created to promote the whole Gulf Coast.
The Sun Herald reports the board of supervisors decided last month to pay for a special election — at $40,000 — so the occupancy tax could be collected sooner. It would cost the county as much as $55,000 a month to meet obligations to the tourism group if supervisors had waited until the November general election.
The tax proposal will require 60 percent approval of those voting to pass.
Officials said the 2 percent tax is expected to generate $600,000 to $700,000 a year.
Half the county’s hotels are in the unincorporated areas, where there is no room tax now.
Of the cities, Moss Point has the most rooms with 750. Pascagoula has 570.
Those two cities already have a 3 percent room tax, which would increase to 5 percent if the proposal passes. Ocean Springs already has a 2 percent, which would increase to 4 percent. Gautier has no room tax at present.
According to the law, Jackson County must pay its part to have a seat at the table and further develop its special brand, the less-glamorous but popular nature tourism.
County Supervisor Troy Ross said state law gave Jackson County two years to test the membership without paying.
Hancock County contributes its 2 percent occupancy tax to the CVB and Harrison County contributes 2.25 percent of its 5 percent room tax.