Warren County may amend tax abatement ordinance|[4/22/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 22, 2005

A Vicksburg dealership in the process of building new facilities has prompted Warren County officials to consider amending the county’s tax abatement ordinance.

In other business before the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Thursday informal meeting, Charles Grant of Communications Specialists and L.W. Callaway III, Warren County Emergency Management Office director, presented the board with cost figures on moving a radio repeater to a different tower.

J.E. Blackburn Jr., owner of Blackburn Motor Co., and Jimmy Gouras of Jimmy Gouras Urban Planners, asked supervisors to consider amending the tax abatement ordinance the board approved in 2004.

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As in effect, the ordinance allows the board to forego part of the property taxes owed on a building in the central business district of Vicksburg and the city’s historical district if the city first grants an abatement.

Abatement, which can be for up to seven years, covers only the difference between the taxes paid on the property before development and the taxes after the project is completed.

Blackburn bought the old Battlefield Village mall property and cleared the site. In its place, he plans to build four buildings to house a Chrysler dealership, a Nissan dealership, a body shop and a used car sales office.

Thursday, he asked the board members for their assurance to consider amending the ordinance and consider his application once the project is complete.

“We did our original ordinance to include only existing buildings in the central business district,” said District 5 Supervisor Richard George, adding it should not take any great effort to amend the law.

“Our original intent was to mirror the city,” said David McDonald, board president and District 1 supervisor.

McDonald said the board needs to have its attorney, Paul Winfield, confer with Gouras on what changes need to be made in the county’s ordinance so it can be voted on at an official meeting.

Discussing the necessity of moving the repeater radio for the 800 megahertz radio system used in the community, Callaway told the board the investigation he and Grant performed showed the best site is the WAFR radio tower just across the county line in Claiborne County. The owner of the tower supporting the repeater now is taking it down and the county has until May 31 to get its equipment off the site.

Grant said the main choice the county really has is whether it wants to buy a prefabricated concrete building or buy a metal building to house the radio equipment. A concrete building will cost $12,748 plus another $3,000 to $4,000 to have it delivered to the site and set up. The metal building would cost about $4,500.

The advantage of the concrete building over the metal building is durability and security.

With the May 31 deadline facing them, supervisors told Grant and Callaway to begin the process of getting the building, ordering antennas and cable and negotiating a contract to lease space on the WAFR tower. The action will be ratified at the next official meeting.