Olive Branch voters to decide on hotel/motel tax Tuesday – Memphis Local, Sports, Business & Food News

Olive Branch city officials are gearing up for a referendum Tuesday, Aug. 2, where a 1% tax will be levied on hotel and motel stays, raising an estimated $500,000 annually for the park system.

Voters should go to their regular polling locations to cast their choice on the single-issue ballot. The six voting locations will be open 7 am to 7 pm Tuesday.

It will be the first time Olive Branch has been able to bring the question of a special tax for parks to registered voters. At least 60% of voters must approve the new tax for it to pass.

Olive Branch seeks hotel-motel tax to help with parks improvements

Mississippi legislators approved bills in the Spring that gave Olive Branch and Hernando the authority to hold a referendum for new taxes to fund park improvements. At the same time, existing special tax provisions for Southaven and Horn Lake received four-year extensions.

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While city officials in Hernando decided to hold a vote Nov. 8 for a 1-cent-per-dollar tax on prepared foods at places like restaurants, Olive Branch officials elected to tax out-of-towners.

Mayor Ken Adams routinely emphasizes that locals won’t be taxed and yet will receive money that benefits children and adults who use the city park system.

“Only people staying in hotels and motels will pay it,” Adams said of the new tax.

Olive Branch mayor focuses on citizen involvement

To promote passage of tax, city officials launched www.people4parks.com. The referendum will read as follows:

“Shall the City of Olive Branch, Mississippi, levy an additional sales tax of 1% on the gross proceeds of overnight room rentals at hotels and motels in the City for the purpose of providing funds to promote tourism, parks and recreation?”

Voters will be given a choice between two boxes to say whether they are for the tax or against it.

Olive Branch officials requested the aid of sports heavyweights to promote passage of the tax.

On the People4Parks website, NASCAR’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is pictured and quoted supporting the tax, as are two former Olive Branch conquistadors, Super Bowl champion KJ Wright and St. Louis Cardinal Ed Easley.

“Olive Branch is growing,” Easley says. “Our parks and recreation needs are growing, too.”

Hernando officials launch penny-tax-for-parks campaign

If enough money is collected from the tax, Olive Branch elected officials want to construct a multi-purpose facility for indoor athletics, build additional soccer fields and enhance existing parks, recreational facilities and equipment.

Southaven was the first of the DeSoto County cities to tap a “Pennies for Parks” tax to supplement funding for recreation. The tax won voter support after the Legislature first gave permission for a referendum in 2011.

The tax has generated millions of dollars for Southaven parks. Snowden Grove Park, the jewel of that city’s park system, features baseball and soccer fields and an amphitheater. The amenities attract hundreds of locals and tourism dollars each year.

Hernando elected officials have also launched an information campaign to promote passage of the tax there in November. Hernando aldermen unanimously approved a plan this summer to pursue $13.7 million in parks and recreational improvements if voters OK the new tax.

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