Southaven Mayor Greg Davis Could Be to Blame for Halting Parks Program

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(Southaven, MS) Southaven Mayor Greg Davis’ spending controversy and investigation may have put a program designed to improve Southaven in jeopardy.

The Southaven Board of Aldermen is trying to convince the state legislature to extend a tax increase to help pay for Southaven parks’ renovation.

In Mississippi, anytime you try and raise taxes the state has to step in to give the green light.

In November 2011, a one percent tax increase was passed allowing Southaven to use tax money spent in restaurants and help with park upkeep. But the Penny for the Parks initiative is set to expire next year.

More than $700, 000 was raised from the program last year, all to upgrade parks all over the city. In order for money to continue to flow into city parks from the restaurant tax, the state of Mississippi has to remove what’s called a repealer on the tax hike.

“The legislature decided they wanted a little more control over the tax and how long it stayed in place,” said Alderman Ronnie Hale.

Hale says he is not sure why the state placed a repealer on this specific tax. But when state lawmakers first put a time frame on the tax hike, many speculated it was because of the negative attention brought to the city because of Mayor Greg Davis’ spending.

“We are all under the spotlight and scrutiny because of what’s going ton with the Mayor’s office and the investigation. We just want to assure everybody there is not any problem with the tax money. It is not misused,” said Hale.

Hale says the money can’t be misused.

“The tax is set aside for park improvements and can’t be used for any other funds, but park projects. That alone is assurance we will work with the money we collect, we can’t spend any more than we collect,” said Hale.

He hopes state lawmakers remove the repeal soon.

The city is starting a 35 million dollar park improvement plan. Money from the Penny for the Parks program could help pay for bonds to fund the project.

“It’s something we have to work around, whether we get the repealer or not,” said Hale.