Restaurant tax goes to Jackson

D’IBERVILLE

The D’Iberville City Council and Mayor Rusty Quave voted unanimously Tuesday to ask for a referendum on a 2 percent food and beverage tax for the city.

Councilman Teddy Harder voted by phone, and Quave and Councilman Stephen Furney reversed their stance from a March 9 vote.

The referendum would have to be approved by the state Legislature and the tax would then have to be approved by at least 60 percent of city voters.

City Manager Michael Janus said he talked to some of his former colleagues in the Legislature after the previous 4-2 vote and they said the proposal didn’t have much life expectancy without a unanimous vote. The regular session in Jackson is set to end in early April.

Janus said the referendum would allow residents to decide whether the tax should be levied on bars and restaurants to raise funds for a new police and fire building, sports facilities and tourist promotions.

Richard Zahler, owner of Which Wich sandwich shop, restated his objections to the tax.

“People are really watching their pennies,” he said. “It seems to be not a very good time to be asking people to pay more.”

Quave said he changed his mind about the referendum after he learned more about the tax.

If the Legislature approves it, Quave said the city doesn’t have to put the referendum on the ballot in November if the economy is still sluggish.

And if the voters approve the tax, he said the city can wait to enact it.

Quave said D’Iberville wants to get approval for a referendum before other Coast cities ask for it.

“They’re all thinking about it,” said Quave.

When the economy changes, he said D’Iberville will be in a position to quickly benefit from the increased revenue.

“We have another $2 billion in economic development that’s looking at this city right now,” said Quave. 

By MARY PEREZ – meperez@sunherald.com

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