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Posted on April 11, 2022 at 3:55 PM by Melitta Duncan
After dealing with supply chain issues like everyone else in our country now, we have finally completed the May Blvd Pedestrian Bridge and will host our Grand Opening event this THURSDAY, APRIL 14 at 10:30 AM.
During my time as Mayor, I’ve tried hard to bring positive changes to Southaven that I’ve seen in other parts of the country that have never existed here before. Anytime you bring change, there are some who don’t understand why, and sadly, some who don’t want to understand but just always oppose change, in general. The May Blvd Pedestrian Bridge is one of these things. The bridge is a proven concept in many other parts of our country and an investment that will pay for itself many times over with the economic benefits it will help provide to our city. Here’s why we built it:
TRAFFIC SAFETY had to be addressed at Getwell/May Blvd because of the increased vehicular traffic in the area. A traffic signal had to be installed there. Because of the frequent pedestrian traffic that will come with Silo Square and that already existed with Snowden Grove Park events, it is a safer alternative to separate pedestrian and vehicular traffic. To answer a frequently-asked question, the crosswalks are required by ADA laws in case of an elevator malfunction, but the goal is to encourage pedestrians to stay away from vehicles and cross the bridge.
CONNECTING THE PATHS will eventually create the longest pedestrian trail in the history of Desoto County. The City added multi-use trails in Snowden Grove Park and from Central Park along Tchulahoma. May Blvd will also have a trail from Tchulahoma to Getwell. From Central Park westward, bike/pedestrian lanes allow travel all the way to Airways at Baptist Memorial-Desoto Hospital. The bridge is the final piece needed to connect these trails allowing bike/pedestrian travel from Airways Rd to Malone Rd.
CONNECTING COMMERCE on both sides of Getwell will complete the first-ever pedestrian-friendly entertainment district in our city creating tremendous economic synergy in what will become a focal tourism destination point. We’ve already attracted numerous pending developments on each side that have vocalized the importance of the bridge connection in making their business model work here. Again, this will pay huge economic dividends to our city for many years to come and pay for the initial investment many times over.
An ICONIC SYMBOL has been created with the bridge that beautifies the grand entrance to one of the key assets of our city and shows the pride our citizens have in our city. This will be the future site of many marriage proposals, prom photos, graduation photos, and a backdrop for many other memorable times of life for our citizens.
I’m very proud of this project and its grand opening is a special day for Southaven! Let’s cut the ribbon, cross it, and let the good times roll!
Posted on April 7, 2022 at 11:18 AM by Melitta Duncan
I’m proud of Southaven! I’m proud of our history. I’m proud of so many amenities that we have to offer. I’m proud of our key assets and destinations that have served so many people well. We need to highlight and promote these special assets and destinations. As another part of our revitalization and beautification plan, you will soon see these wayfinding signs placed in high-profile locations throughout our city. These signs will serve a functional purpose of directing travelers (or at least confirming other directional technology) and also promoting our assets in an attractive way.
I hope you like them as much as I do!
Posted on April 6, 2022 at 5:58 PM by Melitta Duncan
The City of Southaven experienced a huge win last week with the passage of SB 2512 which is a local and private bill that extended the 1% restaurant tourism tax, commonly referred to as “A Penny for Your Parks”, for another 4 years until June 30, 2026. We are blessed with some local state legislators who have developed quality relationships in the State Capitol and who all played a key role in this success. Senators David Parker, Kevin Blackwell, and Mike McClendon as well as House Representatives Jeff Hale, Hester Jackson-McCray, Jerry Darnell, and Bill Kinkade have proven to be big assets and very effective for Desoto County. Key business leaders in our community also leaned on The Capitol to support our park enhancement funding and its impact on our local economy.
Unfortunately, there are a few House Representatives from Desoto County (shown in “red” in the photo below with “Nay” votes to our bill) who vote “Nay” to other local and private bills like ours throughout the state under the guise of fighting tax increases. This is the main purpose of my message today.
Before I get into the facts of why a tourism tax is not a tax “increase” for Southaven citizens and why parks and recreational opportunities benefit every Southaven citizen financially, let me summarize the general purpose and importance of parks and recreation. I could write a book on this, but will just summarize today. Parks offer opportunities for our kids that create life-long benefits and move them away from so many dangers that try to trap them now. Although Southaven offers a wide array of sports options for kids of all skill-sets and development levels, our parks program is much broader than just sports. Playgrounds, walking trails, lakes and other natural surroundings, and a premier outdoor music entertainment venue have something to offer everyone. In general, parks promote a healthier lifestyle and general well-being for people of all ages and interests.
Now, if you don’t believe what I just told you and your argument is still that we don’t need parks, listen up and let’s just “talk money”. In Southaven, general sales tax revenue generated in 2012 was $12.4 million. In 2022, we are projected to finish the year with $18.2 million (excluding internet sales)! This is almost a 50% increase which shows incredible economic growth, all while having zero increases in the property tax millage rate! The investment in our parks and recreational opportunities has played a significant role in this growth by drawing tourism and making our city more economically attractive. Now, you may say, “why don’t you just fund park enhancements with these new sales tax dollars?” We certainly can, but we’ve used this additional revenue for amenities city-wide such as massive increases in public safety and infrastructure allocations. Specifically, our Police budget has grown tremendously because it simply has to in today’s world! We have also increased our street resurfacing budget over 800% since 2012. Funding parks with this revenue pulls allocations from these much-needed priorities. Here’s where we “plug-in” tourism tax revenue.
The history and facts about “A Penny for Your Parks”…
Southaven’s restaurant tourism tax was first approved by the voters with no repeal date in 2010 followed by another referendum in 2011 mandated by the State Legislature. The repeal date was added in 2011 and is a common practice of the Legislature for a “checks and balances” purpose to make sure the tax revenue is spent properly, not to end the tax. Many, if not all, get extended except when the local delegation fights their own bill, which is almost unheard of until recently. A tourism tax allows a city’s park amenities to be paid partly by people who don’t live locally, but still enjoy the amenities of the local city. Removing these doesn’t decrease taxes, but instead transfers 100% of the cost on its own taxpayers. In the first year of collections in 2012, the tourism tax produced $959,000. The last full year, it will produce approximately $2.7 million. If this tax were removed and this revenue source replaced with general fund dollars, it would cause the average Southaven property taxpayer to have an increase of $150 annually ($2.7 million divided by 18,000 properties). A household would have to spend more than $15,000 annually at Southaven restaurants for the tourism tax (1%) to cost the taxpayers in that given household more than removing it and funding parks with general fund dollars. I venture to say that no Southaven resident spends more than $15,000 annually at Southaven restaurants.
In summary, every citizen benefits financially from our parks, whether you use them or not. Removing our tourism tax funding would not decrease any Southaven taxpayer’s taxes. Instead, it would only decrease the taxes of tourists to our city who will then use our amenities without paying their part and transfer the tax burden 100% to our own citizens.
Park enhancement and tourism taxes are a “win-win” for Southaven!