County postpones talks on property tax protests

Published 11:43 am Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Decisions on how much to tax eight properties at the heart of written and verbal protests earlier this month were put on hold by Warren County supervisors Monday, while the board OK’d final orders for improvement-related tax exemptions for four industries.

Four objections involved rented homes or apartment complexes, while two others involved major employers in Vicksburg. Owners of homes, businesses and farmland may file formal protests to their land values for 30 days after the board OK’s tax rolls in July.

Supervisors left the issue off Monday’s meeting agenda. Tax Assessor Richard Holland said either he or Deputy Tax Assessor Jim Agent expect to present findings and recommendations to the county board during an informal meeting set for Monday, Aug. 22. Three informal meetings in late July focused exclusively on a budget for 2011-12, which supervisors plan to adopt following a public hearing Sept. 6. Five draft versions have shown spending somewhere around this year’s $14.8 million budget, with four showing pay raises for sheriff’s deputies.

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Agent said six property owners filed paperwork either via mail or fax to the Tax Assessor’s Office or were forwarded to the office by the Board of Supervisors. They were:

• Ameristar Casino, for the personal property tax on the main casino and a structure connecting it to the parking garage.

• John and Sandra Shingler, owners of homestead and rental properties at 1816 Cherry St. and 1703 Monroe St.

• Philip Jabour, co-owner of vacant land on South Madison Street and a commercial building at 1700 Monroe St. The building houses Mississippi Action for Progress.

• Alexander and Evan Morales, co-owners of rental units at 1315 China St.

• Ridgeland-based Property Tax Associates, who filed on behalf of three apartment complexes — Beechwood Park at 201 Berryman Road, Eastview at 1900 Baldwin Ferry Road and Villa Pacis at 3440 Wisconsin Ave.

• Kansas-based Property Valuation Services, which filed on behalf of River Region Medical Center protesting the hospital’s personal property tax values. Personal property is all assets not built onto the land — in many cases, inventory held by businesses.

Real and personal property values for homes and businesses fell 1 percent this year on the tax rolls Holland presented to supervisors in June.

Protests heard in person before supervisors on Aug. 1, without a formal written objection, will not be part of the discussion Monday, Agent said.

In other business, exemptions based on new equipment at four industries approved by the board in May and June have been certified by the Mississippi Department of Revenue. The exemption reduces amounts paid on county taxes for 10 years. All four received the same exemption from the City of Vicksburg this year. The break does not reduce school and state taxes.

The businesses and their basis for applying for the tax break were:

• Foam Packaging, $527,000 spent on a new chiller.

• Cooper Lighting, $643,602.41 on upgrades tied to LED lighting production.

• Polyvulc, $327,350 on a wheel loader and two steel-separating tire shredders.

• Falco Chemical, $341,600, on material screeners and three new computers.