County property valuations fall, first time tax assessor recalls

Published 12:01 am Sunday, July 10, 2011

Scant new construction and a shaky local job market have made for lower property values and generally lower sale prices on homes in Vicksburg and Warren County, according to county officials and market trackers.

Real and personal property for homes and businesses fell 1 percent to $3,474,321,311, according the 2011-12 tax roll presented to the Board of Supervisors by the Tax Assessor’s Office.

“This is the first time I ever recall we have had a decrease in total valuation on our tax rolls,” Richard Holland, Warren County tax assessor for 16 years, said, citing dips in the value of agricultural land and commercial growth shrinking in scope from the hotel/casino influx of the recent past.

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“We did not have any new hotels or motels or apartments or casino expansions,” said Holland, who is retiring this year. He counted strip mall expansion around Plaza Drive and a new office for Dirt Works as lone examples of new commercial construction. “We had a very limited amount of industrial expansion this year. It was a very lean year as far as new construction in residential and commercial.”

Home sales were off the pace of last year and have stayed on the market longer since the Great Recession, by most accounts.

“We don’t have enough turnover of jobs in Vicksburg, in government or industry,” said Wayne Thornton, a Realtor and certified general appraiser, noting a median selling price of about $124,500 for 141 homes he said had sold in the city and county so far in 2011, less than a $134,000 median price on 300 sold in 2010. When unincorporated communities like Eagle Lake and Bovina are added to the mix, median prices for this year and last year jump — but maintain a pattern of falling prices.