Complete election returns show "for" votes totaling 672 (33.8 percent) and against votes totaling 1,316 (66.2 percent). The referendum needed 60 percent in favor to pass.
Turnout was 1,988, just 16 percent of the county's active voters. It was a gray, rainy day as residents headed to the polls, and Circuit Clerk Donna Dill noted that just one item on the ballot tends to draw a low turnout.
The 2 percent tax, which would have supported tourism promotion and projects for development of parks and recreation, would have been collected in addition to the 7 percent sales tax.
A similar effort failed five years ago. Supporters of the tax felt there hadn’t been enough effort made to promote the benefits of a tourism tax during that campaign, and a committee was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to disseminate information to the community.
Supporters estimated annual funding would have been $80,000 for Iuka; $30,000 for Burnsville; $12,000 for Tishomingo; $10,000 for Golden; $58,000 for Belmont; and $5,000 for Paden. An estimated $70,000 would have gone to projects outside municipal boundaries.
The county has a 1 percent tax on hotels and motels that generated $22,668 in the 12-month period from July 2016 through June of this year.
A number of Northeast Mississippi communities have special taxes in addition to sales tax, including Corinth, Booneville, Ripley and Baldwyn.