Holloway troubled by hastily passed room-tax proposal

Mayor A.J. Holloway says he has issues with a resolution passed by the City Council this afternoon seeking state approval to add as much as a $5 per room per night tax on hotel rooms in the city.

The City Council passed the measure by a 6-0 vote — councilmember Lucy Denton was absent — during a meeting that was called on 90 minutes notice. Councilmembers said the meeting was hastily called to meet an approaching deadline in the state Legislature.

“As I’ve said time and again, revenue is not the problem, spending is the problem,” Holloway said after the meeting.

During the meeting, the mayor told councilmembers he thought they should get input from Biloxi innkeepers and others in the tourism industry before voting on the issue. He also said he questioned the legality of imposing such a special tax without a defined purpose for the revenue.

Councilmembers vowed to have multiple hearings before imposing any room tax, if the taxing authority were granted by the state. Declared Holloway to council members: “I just think you’re trying to backdoor this.”

Among those speaking against the proposal during the meeting were Linda G. Hornsby, executive director of the Biloxi-based Mississippi Hotel & Lodging Association; and Richard Forrester, executive director of the Harrison County Tourism Commission.

Online resolution: To read a copy of the resolution, click here.