SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - A penny for your thoughts. How about a penny for Southaven's parks?
Voters said "yes" this week to adding a one percent tax on restaurant tabs to go toward new city baseball fields, tennis courts and more. All those pennies will add up to millions for the city.
"We are going to have a picnic and enjoy the weather," says Tabitha Tomlinson.
Tomlinson brings her 4-year-old daughter to Snowden Grove about once a week for a play date with friends.
"It's fun," says mom Megan Hood. "It's open and has a lot of different things. Most parks just have a swing and a slide. This has a pretty big variety of things for kids to play on."
Soon, the park will have even more to offer now that Southaven voters approved a tourism tax on restaurant bills.
"It's one percent or basically a penny out of every dollar spent," says Mayor Greg Davis. "A lot of people who just visit our town will be helping us pay for the improvements that make our quality of life so great."
"It's an awesome idea," agrees Hood.
The city will add baseball and soccer fields, a water park, dog park, tennis courts and the list goes on. They'll be improving and updating about two dozen parks.
The money will also be used to build a new senior center next to Snowden Grove. The mayor thinks most of the people who voted "yes" on the tax were senior citizens wanting to make sure that happens.
"They really came out in full force for us," he tells abc24.com. "They want a permanent home, so that's first on the burner. That one is coming out of the gate first."
The total cost for everything in the works is $35 million. Once that's paid off, the city will use the tax money to keep everything looking like new.
Davis thinks most people won't even notice they're paying more.
"It's not enough," says Hood. "If it was 10 cents, yes, people would probably notice. I think most people will say since it's going toward a good cause, it's okay."
"It is such a small amount," says Mayor Davis, "but collectively for us, because of the number of restaurants we have, it could equate to a million dollars a year."
The vote passed with almost 75 percent approval. The tax goes into effect December 1, 2011.