Bay St. Louis voters stayed away from the polls in droves on Tuesday, but the people who did turn out to cast their ballots in the city's referendum on a two-percent food and beverage tax were against it by a wide margin.
After the votes from all six of the city's wards were counted Tuesday night, the result was "226 for it, 726 against," Hancock County Deputy Circuit Clerk Jolene Fore said, meaning the referendum failed by a 76-percent margin.
"We left it up tot he people to choose and they made their voice and their vote heard," Ward 6 Councilman Josh De Salvo said Tuesday. "Personally, I would have liked to have seen it pass to help improve our parks and the quality of life for the children in the community, but I appreciate those who voted, whether they were for it or against it."
"We just didn't do a good enough job at getting the information out to the people," Mayor Mike Favre said Tuesday. "I wish there had been a better turn-out."
Favre said that just because the referendum didn't pass this time, that doesn't necessarily mean it's dead.
"We'll go back before the council after the first of the year and see what they want to do," he said. "We just need to go back to the drawing board and we'll figure it out."
Favre said next time, the city will have more concrete plans and do a better job of informing the public about them.
The Bay St. Louis City Council voted unanimously in February to approve a resolution to ask the Mississippi Legislature to approve the submission of a Local/Private bill to authorize the tax. The money would be used for tourism, parks and recreation in the city. The Legislature approved the bill in its regular session this year.
It needed 60 percent of the vote in order to pass.