Restaurant tax proposed would fund Hernando park improvements

Proposal: Pay more at restaurants to benefit local parks
Southaven started its "penny for the parks" program a few years ago. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
Southaven started its "penny for the parks" program a few years ago. (Source: WMC Action News 5)
The large sign out front makes it pretty obvious where she stands on the tax. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
The large sign out front makes it pretty obvious where she stands on the tax. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - Starting in October, people who eat out in Hernando, Mississippi could see their bill slightly higher. That's if voters approve a restaurant tax increase that will go toward improving local parks.

But, some restaurant owners are concerned it will drive business away.

If the measure passes people that go out to eat in Hernando would pay two pennies on every dollar they spend, and the money would go to fixing up the city's parks.

Some restaurants are not in favor of the idea, and the vote is a week away.

Tammy Morgan brings her grandchildren to Conger Park in Hernando. It's one of several in town that could get a facelift if a new tax passes.

"Sometimes we walk, sometimes we bring the kids to play. I like it because it's clean, it's home."

Instead of raising property taxes, there's the restaurant tax proposal.

Kelly Pouliot runs the Blue Daze Bistro. The large sign out front makes it pretty obvious where she stands on the tax. She's for park improvements, but believes it may make customers choose to eat elsewhere.

"A tax like this could put a small family-run business, out of business," said Pouliot. "If you put it across the board as a sales tax, that might be a better idea, or raising the money in other ways."

Signs are up at other restaurants in town, too. Mayor Chip Johnson says if people pass the tax, parks could see an extra $400,000 per year. He doubts it will hurt business and instead thinks it might bring tourists in if they can fix up baseball and soccer fields to host tournaments.

There are lots of opinions, but when WMC Action News 5 asked park-goers for their 'two cents' on the issue one said,

"If you can afford to eat out, two cents is not going to change your mind."

The vote is on August 5, and if the measure passes residents could start paying those extra two pennies in the fall.

Copyright 2014 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.