Holloway vetoes room-tax proposal

Mayor A.J. Holloway, following up on his reservations about a proposed hotel room tax for Biloxi visitors, today vetoed the measure that councilmembers hoped to have before the state Legislature before a Friday deadline.

“I have established a record of acting in deliberate fashion after considering all sides of an issue,” Holloway said in a short veto message. “As such, I cannot in good conscience approve a tax measure conceived in the 11th hour that threatens to impose an unspecified tax for an unspecified amount of time and for an unspecified use.”

The mayor also amplified his call to councilmembers for fiscal responsibility:

“As I said to you on numerous occasions and as recently as last week, the City of Biloxi has a spending problem. We should focus more time on reducing operating expenses instead of creating new taxes.”

Councilmembers in a hastily called meeting on Wednesday afternoon voted 6-0 to pass a resolution asking the state Legislature for authority to impose a tax of as much as $5 per room per night on hotel and motel rooms in Biloxi. Councilmembers, facing a budget deficit and declining revenue, said that if the legislation was approved, myriad public hearings would be held before any tax would be imposed. However, they stopped short of saying a public referendum.would be held.

During the meeting, Holloway questioned the legality and wisdom of seeking approval for such a tax without more input from the tourism industry.

Read the veto message: To see a digital version of the mayor’s veto message delivered to the clerk of council this afternoon,
click here.