Going into the third quarter of the current Fiscal Year, officials from the Petal Sports Association expected that quarter’s revenues to come in at around $35,000.
That check instead came in at $37,000, which puts PSA’s total revenues at about $103,000 with one quarter left of the fiscal year – the highest amount the organization has seen since forming its partnership with the City of Petal. Brian Hall, who has served as the director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department since 2018, said September’s payment is forecast to be $40,00; so barring any unforeseen circumstances, PSA should come out about $45,000 more than in any of its previous years.
“It shows me that the recreation department and PSA are on track and growing like they’re supposed to be,” Hall said. “PSA is very excited about the possibilities of the three-penny tax (increase at Petal restaurants) if it passes, and the growth we could have with it.”
Hall attributes the increased revenue to bigger participation numbers and more field rentals. PSA featured approximately 600 athletes for its baseball and softball spring season, along with 170 volunteer coaches.
“I worked with a lot of other organizations to bring their tournaments in on the weekends and rent their fields out,” Hall said. “I want to try to use the fields as often as possible to make revenue.”
The idea of a 3 percent sales tax increase at Petal restaurants has been passed around for the last several months as an option to increase much-needed revenue for other city programs and departments without having to raise property taxes or cut additional personnel. As a city entity, Petal has not increased taxes in more than a decade.
The sales tax increase would bring an estimated $750,000 in additional revenue to the city each year.
The funds raised from the tax would go toward the city's parks and recreation department, which would allow the city to maintain that department at its current level. That, in turn, would free up money in the city’s general fund that could be used for measures such as the police department, fire department or infrastructure.
The tax increase proposal passed both houses of the Mississippi Legislature in March, and a public election will soon be held for voters to decide whether to instate the tax. When the public election on the matter is held – which is expected to be this summer – 60 percent of the voters who turn out would have to vote in favor of the increase before it could be implemented.
“(Revenue) would continue to improve if the three-penny tax allowed soccer fields to get built,” Hall said. “Of course, it would take a year or so to build them, but if you could start soccer in 2022, I would expect the revenue to nearly double – if they use it for the correct thing and build soccer fields, and not just waste foolish money at the River Park.”
In mid-May, PSA president Jerry DeFatta, who also serves on the Petal School District Board of Trustees, posted a letter on the PSA website in support of the 3 percent tax increase.
“The Petal Sports Association is excited about the investment this revenue stream will make in our current youth sports programs and the resources it will provide for growth and improvements in our offerings in the future,” the letter states. “In addition to enhancing our youth sports programs, the resources generated through this program will provide revenue, allowing our city to make additional investments in the other recreational spaces already in the city and even assist in the development of new ones.”