1998 Regular Session

To: Local and Private

By: Senator(s) Furniss

Senate Bill 3291

(As Passed the Senate)




SECTION 1. Chapter 955, Local and Private Laws of 1996, is amended as follows:

Section 1. The following terms as used in this act shall have the meanings ascribed in this section unless the context otherwise clearly requires:

(a) "Bar" means any bar, tavern or lounge where alcoholic beverages are sold for consumption on the premises;

(b) "Casino" means any casino properly licensed by the Mississippi Gaming Commission and operating in Tunica County, Mississippi;

(c) "Commission" means the Tunica County Tourism Commission;

(d) "Complimentary sales" or "complimentaries" means activities involving the furnishing or providing of rooms for lodging or sleeping, or the furnishing or providing of food or beverage for the public's consumption, or the furnishing or providing of other services, which any casino performs without cost to the recipient at the point of sale;

(e) "County" means Tunica County, Mississippi;

(f) "Governing authorities" means the Tunica County Board of Supervisors and the Mayor and Board of Aldermen of the Town of Tunica;

(g) "Hotel" or "motel" means any establishment engaged in the business of furnishing or providing rooms intended or designed for lodging or sleeping purposes for transient guests, which establishment consists of ten (10) or more guest rooms, and does not encompass any hospital, convalescent or nursing home or sanitarium or any hotel-like facility operated by or in connection with a hospital or medical clinic providing rooms exclusively for patients and their families;

(h) "Prepared food" means food prepared on the premises of a restaurant;

(i) "Retail sales" means gross cash receipts (the term does not include complimentaries);

(j) "Restaurant" means any place, including hotel and motel dining rooms, casinos, cafeterias, cafes and lunch stands, where prepared food and drink are sold for consumption either upon or off the premises, but does not include small grocery stores or service stations where the sale of prepared food constitutes less than fifty percent (50%) of the gross sales;

(k) "Town" means the Town of Tunica, Mississippi.

Section 2. (1) There is created the Tunica County Tourism Commission, which shall be a public corporation in perpetuity under its corporate name and in that name shall be a body politic and corporate, with power of perpetual succession, for the purpose of supervising and promoting tourism within Tunica County, Mississippi, and other related activities. The * * * commission shall be domiciled in Tunica County, Mississippi.

(2) The governing authorities are authorized to contract with the commission for the administrative responsibilities of promoting, creating and administering a tourism program and related activities for the county. The governing authorities are authorized to provide funding, personnel and other support to the commission. The amount and type of funding shall be determined by each governing authority acting jointly or independently by resolution of the governing authority duly adopted and spread on their minutes. The governing authorities are authorized to appropriate funds to the commission.

Section 3. (1) The commission shall be governed by a board of commissioners composed of six (6) members appointed as provided in subsection (2) of this section. The commissioners shall serve without compensation. The term of each commissioner shall be for a period of four (4) years.

(2) (a) Five (5) members of the commission shall be appointed by the Board of Supervisors of Tunica County, two (2) of whom shall be general managers of casinos located in Tunica County.

(b) One (1) member of the commission shall be appointed by the governing authorities of the Town of Tunica.

(3) Any vacancy that occurs shall be filled in the same manner as provided for the original appointment and shall be made for the unexpired term. Each member shall serve until a successor is appointed and qualified. If a vacant position is not filled within sixty (60) days of the vacancy, the Tunica County Board of Supervisors shall appoint a member.

(4) Any member of the commission who is absent from three (3) or more consecutive meetings or who is absent from fifty percent (50%) or more of all meetings of the board in any given calendar year shall be deemed to have vacated such position, unless otherwise excused by * * * action of the commission.

(5) The commission shall adopt a set of bylaws which may include provisions they deem appropriate but shall include provisions for the following:

(a) Procedures and times for its meetings. Unless otherwise provided therein, the board shall follow Roberts Rules of Order at its meetings. The board shall comply with the state Open Meetings Law, Section 25-41-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972;

(b) The secretary-treasurer making a monthly report to the board concerning the current operational and financial status of the commission and providing a written copy of such report to the governing authorities; and

(c) The board annually causing a full and complete examination of all the books and accounts of the commission to be made by an independent, certified public accountant and providing a copy of the examination to the governing authorities and to the Department of Audit of the State of Mississippi.

(6) Before entering upon the duties of office, each commissioner shall take and subscribe to the oath of office required by Section 268, Mississippi Constitution of 1890, and shall give bond in a sum of not less than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00), conditioned upon the faithful performance of his duties, such bond to be made payable to and approved by the chancery clerk of the county. The cost of all such bonds shall be paid by the commission.

(7) Within thirty (30) days after the initial appointments of the commissioners have been made, the commission shall meet and elect from among its membership a chairman, vice chairman and secretary-treasurer and shall adopt a seal and such bylaws, rules and regulations as may be necessary to govern the time, place and manner for holding subsequent meetings of the commission and for the conduct of its business, not inconsistent with the provisions of this act. The commission shall record and retain minutes of all meetings. The commission shall require the necessary and appropriate bond for persons authorized or responsible for the funds of the commission. Any action taken by the commission shall be official at the time the action is taken. Actions may be taken by the commission at any regular, special, recessed or adjourned meeting.

(8) The commissioners may be reimbursed for actual expenses, including mileage and travel expenses, whether within or without the State of Mississippi, incurred in the performance of their duties, as authorized by Section 25-3-41, Mississippi Code of 1972.

(9) The commissioners may employ such personnel and take other acts they deem necessary to carry out the purpose of the commission. The commissioners shall set the level of the compensation to be paid to the commission's employees.

(10) The commissioners and duly authorized employees of the commission may spend funds of the commission for travel and entertainment, which travel and entertainment is for the purpose of promoting tourism in and for Tunica County, or for assisting in booking conventions or group meetings in and for Tunica County. Prior to any funds being spent pursuant to the authority granted by this subsection, the commission shall generally approve the proposed travel and/or entertainment prior to the travel and/or entertainment taking place. Following any travel and entertainment expenditures being made pursuant to this subsection, a report shall be filed with the commission and made a part of the commission's minutes. The report shall state the date, purpose and amount of the expenditures.

Section 4. The commission may take any and all acts necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act.

Section 5. The carrying out of the purposes of the commission is in all respects for the benefit of the people of the county and is a public purpose, and the commission will be performing an essential governmental function in the exercise of the powers conferred upon it by this act.

Section 6. The commission, in addition to the monies that may be received by it from the governing authorities as taxes as provided for in Section 8 of this act, may accept from any public or private agency, or from any individual, grants for or in aid of the construction of any project and may receive and accept contributions, from any source, of money or property or other things of value to be held, used and applied for the purposes for which such grants or contributions may be made.

Section 7. With the prior approval of the Board of Supervisors of Tunica County, the commission may (a) apply for and accept grants and loans on behalf of the governing authorities from the State of Mississippi or the United States of America or any agency thereof and (b) contract with any agency of the State of Mississippi or the United States of America for the development of tourism.

Section 8. (1) For the purpose of providing funds for the commission to promote conventions and tourism in Tunica County, the Board of Supervisors of Tunica County may levy and assess against and collect from every person, firm, corporation or other entity operating hotels or motels in Tunica County, an assessment, in addition to all other taxes imposed, which may be cited as a "tourism tax," which shall not exceed a sum equal to two percent (2%) of the gross proceeds of sales from room rentals of all hotels and motels in Tunica County, excluding charges for food, beverage, telephone, laundry and other similar charges. The tax shall not be levied upon or collected from gross proceeds of nontaxable rooms, complimentary rooms or room rentals for day meetings that do not serve as overnight sleeping accommodations.

(2) The Board of Supervisors of Tunica County also may impose upon persons doing business within Tunica County, in addition to the tax imposed on hotel and motel rooms under subsection (1) of this section, an assessment in addition to all other taxes imposed, which may also be cited as "tourism tax," which shall not exceed one percent (1%) of the gross proceeds of restaurants and bars derived from retail sales of prepared food or alcoholic beverages (which includes beer and light wine), or both. This tax shall not be levied upon or collected from gross proceeds from complimentary sales of food or beverage.

(3) Before the taxes authorized by this section may be imposed, the Board of Supervisors of Tunica County shall adopt a resolution declaring its intention to levy the taxes and establishing the amount of the tax levies and the date on which the taxes initially will be levied and collected. This date shall be the first day of a month but not earlier than the first day of the second month from the date of adoption of the resolution. Notice of the proposed tax levies shall be published once each week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks in a newspaper having a general circulation in the county. The first publication of the notice shall be made not less than twenty-one (21) days before the date fixed in the resolution on which the board of supervisors proposes to levy the taxes, and the last publication of the notice shall be made not more than seven (7) days before that date. If, within the time of giving notice, twenty percent (20%) or fifteen hundred (1500), whichever is less, of the qualified electors of the county file a written petition against the levy of the taxes, then the taxes shall not be levied unless authorized by a majority of the qualified electors of the county, voting at an election to be called and held for that purpose. Before the effective date of the tax levies approved as provided in this section, the board of supervisors shall furnish to the Chairman of the State Tax Commission a certified copy of the resolution evidencing the tax levies.

(4) Persons, firms or corporations liable for the taxes under this section shall add the amount of the tax to the sales price and, in addition thereto, shall collect, insofar as practicable, the amount of the tax due by them from the person receiving the services at the time of payment therefor.

(5) All such taxes shall be collected by and paid to the State Tax Commission on a form prescribed by the State Tax Commission in the same manner that state sales taxes are computed, collected and paid. The full enforcement provisions and all other provisions of Chapter 65, Title 27, Mississippi Code of 1972, shall apply as necessary to the implementation and administration of this act.

(6) The proceeds of such taxes, less three percent (3%) to be retained by the State Tax Commission to defray the costs of collections, shall be paid to Tunica County on or before the fifteenth day of the month following the month in which collected and shall be disbursed by Tunica County to the commission within thirty (30) days of receipt by Tunica County.

(7) The proceeds of such taxes shall not be considered by the county as general fund revenue but shall be dedicated to and used by the commission solely for the purpose of carrying out programs and activities designed to attract visitors, to promote conventions and to promote tourism in the county.

(8) The commission shall, at least annually, develop a plan to attract visitors, to promote conventions, to promote tourism to and in Tunica County and to provide for the operation of the commission.

Section 9. The books of the commission shall be audited annually by an independent certified public accountant, and the accountant shall make a written report of his audit of the taxes collected under Section 8 of this act to the commission and the governing authorities. The audit shall be made and completed as soon as practicable after the close of the fiscal year, and copies of the report of the audit shall be filed with the county within fifteen (15) days after receipt thereof by the commission.

Section 10. This act shall be deemed to be full and complete authority for the exercise of the powers herein granted in the county.

Section 11. If any one or more sections, clauses, sentences or parts of this act shall for any reason be questioned in any court and adjudged unconstitutional or invalid, such judgment shall not affect, impair or invalidate the remaining provisions of this act but shall be confined in its operations to the specific provisions so held invalid; and inapplicability or invalidity of any such section, clause, provision or part shall not be taken to affect or prejudice in any way the remaining part or parts of this act.

Section 12. The Board of Supervisors of Tunica County shall submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.

Section 13. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended, and shall stand repealed on July 1, 2000.

SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.