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County tax increase could be coming

[07/03/01] Supervisors hinted at a countywide tax increase Monday when they reviewed property rolls submitted by Tax Assessor Richard Holland.

The culprit, their attorney said, was a tax break this year the Legislature has provided to homeowners who are 65 or older or disabled. The tax-exempt amount on the value of their homes has been increased from $60,000 per year to $75,000.

“The problem is the money granted to the exemption is money lost to the county,” board attorney Randy Sherard said. While the state pays a homestead exemption rebate to counties, the Legislature did not increase reimbursements to cover the difference.

No figure on the revenue the county will lose via the higher exemption was provided, but Sherard said it will have to be recouped.

Otherwise, the county tax roll showed a total value of real and personal property in the county to be $2,345,555,439, a 4.5 percent increase from this tax year.

“We didn’t see dramatic changes in property values,” Holland said. A countywide appraisal took place in 1997, so valuations are fairly accurate. One-fourth of parcels are being reviewed each year in a new effort to try to keep books accurate.

The higher valuations mean more money for county and school operations at the same tax rate, although Vicksburg Warren School District trustees, who started their budget year Monday, have formally asked supervisors for a higher tax rate.

“Warren County has been good about keeping values up to date,” Holland said. He said the increase can mostly be attributed to new growth in the area and changes made by the state Tax Commission.

Supervisors and the City of Vicksburg hold budget hearings in August and decide tax rates in September. At the end of that month is when owners of vehicles and real estate learn exactly how much more or less they will be paying in the year to come.

Appeals of assessments listed in the rolls will be heard by supervisors until July 26 to equalize and approve the tax rolls. Holland said he encourages property owners to call the tax assessor’s office regarding any concerns about the evaluation of their property.

In other business, the county:

Awarded a bid to Lampkin Construction Company to do drainage improvements at the Bovina Volunteer Fire Station. Lampkin had the lowest bid of four with $45,027. County estimates were $46,736.

Extended the time to accept bids for roof work at the Warren County Jail from July 9 until July 17 at 2 p.m. Specifications were changed and the board wanted to ensure all potential bidders are properly notified, Supervisors’ president Richard George said.

Appointed Robert Moss to the Vicksburg Bridge Commission for a five-year term. Moss will replace Raymond Ray who was on the commission since 1976, but chose not to seek another term.

Took under advisement a request from the cellular company, Telepac, to receive tax exemption status.

Supervisors will meet again at 8 a.m. Thursday.