At least seven on way to lower taxes, assessor says

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 17, 2014

By Danny Barrett Jr.


At least seven of 11 entities who filed formal protests to their Warren County property tax assessments earlier this month will see lower taxes as a result of various adjustments made by the Tax Assessor’s Office.

The full list will be presented to county supervisors Monday for a formal vote, officials said Friday during a working session of the board to hash out details with the assessor and appraiser.

The biggest savings on this year’s tax bill is expected to go to Vicksburg Hotel LLC, which owns the Portofino Hotel on Mulberry Street. The firm had protested 10 real property parcels near the hotel, formerly home to hotels under the Harrah’s, Horizon and Grand Station brand names since 1993.

Tax Assessor Angela Brown told supervisors Wes Kight, her office’s contract appraiser, revisited the hotel and other properties on this year’s list. Some visits resulted in areas being re-measured from scratch. Broken out, cuts in assessed values totaled nearly 75 percent for the hotel, 70 percent for the parking garage and 43.5 percent for the cofferdam in which casino barges have floated.

Kight said he factored into his reassessment the condition of the parking garage and parts of the hotel in varying degrees of disrepair that haven’t been renovated and are out of public view, particularly where the casino’s restaurant once operated.

“You ever saw that show ‘After Earth’?,” Kight said. “I didn’t think it was that bad in there.”

Supervisors on Friday agreed to cut the assessment for Cooper Lighting, to $1,055,531. The original calculation was 3.4 percent higher for the facility on U.S. 61 South.

“It took Wes about 2 ½ days to re-measure the entire place,” Brown said of the efforts on Cooper’s tax protest. “No measurements were in the computer from the previous administration.”

In May, the board granted the company an improvement-related property tax exemption based on nearly $400,000 of new equipment purchased in 2013.

Other entities whose assessment was the subject of changes — all reductions — included:

• General Holdings Inc., which owns a house at 914 Farmer St. The new assessment of $5,570 is $927 less than originally calculated.

• Colette Keller and Trent Elfente, who own a former optometry office at 1201 Walnut St. The new assessment is $3,555, or $7,769 less than originally calculated.

• Hodges Investment Properties, which owns Goggin Warehousing on U.S. 61 South. The new assessment is $241,151, or $38,694 less than originally calculated.

Paperwork on protests filed by DiamondJacks Casino and Armstrong World Flooring were still being processed, but both were expected to have their assessments lowered, Brown said.

Assessments at the heart of challenges filed by Lady Luck Casino, Vicksburg Income Properties, Winn Dixie Properties and Diane Pennington were recommended to stay the same. The same was true for Magnolia Commons apartments, which was mentioned Friday but not included in the list presented by Brown on Aug. 4 when protests were due.