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City officials urge residents to support food and beverage tax

Meridian voters are about to head to the polls and decide on a two percent sales tax on restaurant food and beverages. If passed, the money from the tax will help fund the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience. City officials are hoping for a favorable response.

“Those tax dollars we can use to improve our streets, to improve our schools, to bring jobs, and to make our city have a better quality of life,” said Mayor Percy Bland.

The state has given money for some of the project, but it may be time for residents to pitch in.

“Before they would give us anymore, they said, ‘We want to see if the City of Meridian will step up,’” explained Marty Gamblin, the executive director of the arts facility.

The facility will honor some of Mississippi’s greatest talent and is expected to bring at least 150,000 visitors to the city each year.

“I think the most important part of the project is the fact that we’re going to inspire our young people throughout the state of Mississippi and visitors, to not only look within themselves and see that they might have a talent they didn’t realize they had, but to pursue it,” said Gamblin.

Voting will take place tomorrow at City Hall from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sixty percent of the votes must be in favor of the referendum for it to pass.

City officials say the sales tax will end once the state bonds for the project have been fully paid.

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