Hernando votes Tuesday on park tax

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HERNANDO, Miss. -- Elaine Patrick loves Hernando's Conger Park.

"Everyone enjoys the parks, I mean, we're here today. It's a great park and it's fun for everyone," she said.

Tuesday, voters in Hernando will decide if they want to add an extra two percent tax to their restaurant tabs to pay for improvements to parks like Conger.

Not everybody likes the idea.

"They keep saying it's a two percent tax, but it's actually an eleven percent total tax on food bills at restaurants," said Robert Foster.

But Hernando leaders say it's time the city invested a little in improving and sprucing up parks.

Mayor Chip Johnson says the park money will go into a special parks-only fund so voters can see how the city spends the money.

But Foster has his doubts.

"They have left it open that they can spend it on whatever they want for tourism relates purposes and that, to me, is one of the biggest problems with this tax," he said.

Mayor Johnson disagrees.

"I don't think the board has any intention to use this for tourism what we're wanting to do is make our facilities better," he said.

He also said he took steps to make sure signs at polling places don't give the wrong impression.

"One of them said 'park referendum'. Someone started saying that was trying to sway people's votes. I totally disagree. I think the people need to know what we're voting on is a park referendum but we took the sign down," he said.

Johnson pointed out people from all over use Hernando parks, and the tax insures everybody helps pay.

"If you have to do it, paying for it then restaurant taxes would probably the the easiest and least noticeable way," said Patrick.

Sixty percent of voters must approve the tax for it to pass.