Hattiesburg, Mississippi – At a special-called council meeting on Tuesday night, the Hattiesburg City Council unanimously voted to set an election date for the 1-Cent Parks and Recreation Proposal.
On Tuesday, April 23, voters in the City of Hattiesburg will have the opportunity to vote to raise the restaurant and hotel/motel sales tax by 1% to invest in parks and recreation facilities in the City of Hattiesburg.
The additional 1% in restaurant and hotel/motel tax revenue is expected to generate at least $2.4 million per year. The total amount of new revenue would be split, with half going to improve parks and recreation facilities and half going to support renovations to Reed Green Coliseum, allowing it to also function as a municipal arena.
“For more than a year, we have talked about the possibility of this proposal,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “We’ve held more than 40 town hall meetings in every part of our city and solicited feedback through surveys, email and social media to find out what our residents wanted the most – because we wanted to get the proposal right. ”
The funds that will come to the City for parks and recreation improvements will be spent across 17 individual projects:
- Miracle League inclusion field for children with special needs
- Lighting and drainage improvements to 9th Street Ballpark
- Drainage improvements to soccer fields at Tatum Park
- Expansion of the walking path at Duncan Lake
- Tennis facility improvements at Tatum Park
- Light installation at Friendship Park in East Jerusalem neighborhood
- New girls softball field at Hattiesburg High
- Chain Park amphitheater
- Refinishing of Thames Elementary gym floor for use as an indoor recreation facility during non-school hours
- Splash pad at Sullivan Park in Palmers Crossing
- Tennis court installation on E 8th Street
- Property acquisition for a park in Midtown
- Playground equipment upgrades at Kamper Park
- Splash pad at Timberton Park
- Renovations at old Hattiesburg American building into community arts center space
- Conversion of dilapidated and abandoned property into public green spaces, pocket parks and community gardens
- Additional blueway public access point on Leaf River
The above projects assume a $1.2 million per year revenue stream for approximately three years (June 1, 2019 through June 30, 2022). Any additional funding generated above the $1.2 million will go toward creating bike trails, sidewalks and multi-use paths across the city.
The other half generated by the tax increase would go toward the renovation of Reed Green Coliseum. These funds would be used to not only upgrade the facility to modern-day standards for seating and sound but also to serve as a municipal arena.
“The passage of this results in 1-cent on every dollar spent,” said Barker. “While that may not seem like a lot, we have estimated (conservatively) that it will generate approximately $2.4 million in revenue – based on how many visitors the city sees each year.”
If passed by 60%, the additional 1% tax would begin collection on June 1, 2019, and be in effect until June 30, 2022.
The election will be held on Tuesday, April 23. Hattiesburg voters will vote at their city precincts. If there are any questions about where to vote, residents can call 601-545-4552. Absentee ballots can be requested or accessed by calling or by visiting City Hall at 200 Forrest Street.