While meeting professionals may have to take a wait-and-see attitude towards what a second-term Bush presidency means for the industry, there were some election results Tuesday that will have an immediate impact on meetings.
Voters in Mississippi approved funding for the construction of one new convention center and the expansion of another. In Jackson, voters approved a referendum to fund a new $61 million convention center. To pay for the measure restaurant taxes will increase from 8 percent to 9 percent, and hotel taxes will rise from 8 percent to 11 percent. In addition, a 3 percent tax will be levied on catering at the new center. These changes in the tax rate will take effect in January.
Meanwhile, voters across Harrison County approved a $68 million bond issue to expand the Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center in Biloxi. The expansion will be funded with a 2 percent hike in the county’s hotel tax.
Voters in Hattiesburg were not so kind towards an effort to raise the restaurant/hotel tax in order to renovate or construct new athletic facilities for the University of Southern Mississippi. Hattiesburg voters turned down a 1 percent tax increase that would have been used to upgrade the university’s football, basketball, baseball and softball facilities.
In Arlington, Texas, voters approved a series of taxes to help fund a new stadium for the National Football League Dallas Cowboys. The sales tax is being hiked from 7.5 percent to 8 percent, hotel taxes are being raised from 13 percent to 15 percent, and the car rental tax is being boosted from 10 percent to 15 percent. These increases are expected to raise about half of the expected $650 million it will take to construct the 75,000-seat stadium. The increases will go into effect on April 1.
In San Diego, voters turned down Proposition J. which would have increased the city’s hotel occupancy tax by 1.5 percent to raise $28 million in revenue to help pay for city services. And in the northern part of the state, voters in Napa County passed a measure that increases county’s lodging tax by 1.5 percent.