A 1 percent tax increase for the city of Starkville has passed the Mississippi State House of Representatives, and heads next to the Senate.
The bill, titled House Bill 1565, could allow for a 1 percent hotel and restaurant tax increase in Starkville, with the funds going toward a new tournament sports complex at Cornerstone park on Highway 25. Starkville Mayor Lynn Spruill and Starkville Parks and Recreation Director Gerry Logan said the park would help attract various sports tournaments both at the state and regional level.
“New fields, and especially if those fields involve synthetic playing surfaces, which are kind of an insurance against rain, we’re already attracting some tournaments, but if we get a new complex, especially at the level that we’ve seen others do, then we could make Starkville kind of a hub of sports tourism in not only the state, but the region, which would really be a goal.,” Logan said.
Logan also said he was excited at the prospect of the complex.
“I’m just excited to hear about the next steps and timeline,” Logan said.
Spruill said she was thankful for the cooperation of area legislators.
“We have a parks system that needs some upgrading, and this is an opportunity to upgrade what we currently have and create something entirely new for a group of people who come into Starkville to go to tournaments,” Spruill said. “This will be and even better draw.”
She said the facility would fill two very important aspects of the community by drawing tournaments and offering recreation opportunities for Starkville residents. Additionally, she said the complex would help to develop the west side of Starkville.
After its approval in the House, the bill now awaits approval in the Senate. Sen. Angela Turner-Ford, a West Point Democrat, said the Senate had not yet taken the bill up.
“I’m supportive of it, and I hope it comes through,” Turner-Ford said. “I haven’t heard anything to the contrary.”
She said the bill would have to be called out of the Senate Local and Private Committee before the Senate as a whole voted on it.
“That’s where we are,” Turner-Ford said. “Once the chairman decides that it’s going to be called up fin the committee, then the committee will vote on it and it will go before the Senate.”
Starkville Republican Rep. Rob Roberson, one of the bill’s authors, said the bill had passed the House smoothly. He said he anticipated similar results in the Senate.
“On our end, everything is going smoothly,” Roberson said. “Now it goes back to Starkville to have a vote on it, and we’ll go from there.”
If the bill passes the Senate and receives Gov. Phil Bryant’s signature, citizens of Starkville will vote on the tax increase in a special election.
Spruill said the public would have ample opportunities for discussion leading up to the election.
“I’m looking for the success associated with the senate, because our representatives have been very positive about the project, and the feeling that it will pass without a problem, with the governor’s signature, then we will do our best to have a lot of public opportunities for input,” Spruill added.