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WATER VALLEY – Voters in Water Valley rejected the proposed two percent tourism tax in the special election held on March 8. The vote tally was 117 for the tax and 97 against, failing to meet the 60 percent threshold for the tax to pass. The turnout was light, with 10 percent of the registered voters in the city going to the polls.
The proposed tax would have added two percent to the cost of prepared food and drinks sold at restaurants and convenience stores inside the city limits of Water Valley. Proceeds from the tax would have been earmarked for recreation, parks and tourism in the city.
The election was triggered by a 2019 request from the Water Valley Board of Aldermen for legislation to authorize the referendum. Representative Tommy Reynolds introduced House Bill 1606 during the 2020 session, a local and private bill that was passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor.
More than 100 cities, towns or counties across Mississippi have adopted similar tourism and economic development taxes.