Downtown tax district renewed

Published 12:14 pm Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Vicksburg Main Street program will continue to generate revenue from a property millage in their taxing district.

The resolution for a special assessment rate was renewed during Tuesday’s Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“Thirty-five merchants got together in 1986 to generate a taxing district so every year we have to come back for the taxing hearing to have this approved, so it’s just routine,” Main Street director Kim Hopkins said.

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The tax has been in place since the mid-1980s and has been renewed every year since then.

The resolution states the taxing district, which currently incorporates 306 properties, and the tax assessment rate, which will continue to be 5.05 mils on commercial real property.

Property owners pay anywhere from $13 up to hundreds of dollars depending on the size of the property.

The money generated from the tax goes to the Main Street Program, where it continues to fund improvements, programs and façade grants within the city.

“That’s how we fund our promotions, events, advertising, pretty much every day expenses,” Hopkins said.

Letters were sent to each property owner in the taxing district to let them know the tax was up for renewal. The Main Street Program was also required to run three notices in the newspaper informing the public of the impending hearing.

Main Street board chairman Skipper Guizerix said people usually have questions about what the assessment rate means, but once they are informed of the benefits, they have been supportive.

“What I have found is once they’re better informed and they more fully understand the benefits they derive, they don’t complain, they agree, and enjoy the system as it is,” Guizerix said. “There’s no better evidence of that than all the new investors that are coming and the new residents that are coming.”

Joyce Clingan, owner of Walnut Hills, asked years ago to be included in the taxing district. Adams Street, where Walnut Hills is located, was not originally part of the district, but she said because it is one of the oldest streets in the city and it is still brick lined it met the preservation standards of the Main Street Program.

The mayor at that time, Laurence Leyens, approved her request and it’s been a part of the district ever since.

“I did not see the minute amount that the tax is as being a drain on me. I saw the plusses of how I could be a part of that group,” Clingan said. “That’s still how I feel about it, it’s all plusses.”

The Main Street Program uses the original House Bill No. 1223 to write up the resolution every year, and as far as Hopkins is aware, the millage has not changed since the beginning.

Guizerix presented the resolution to the Board of Mayor and Alderman. Instead of simply reading the resolution, he informed the board about the good the tax does for the community.

“We used to just get up there and read the resolution, and there’s a lot of legal verbiage in there, and I really wanted to speak more extemporaneously and invite a dialogue more than present a resolution,” Guizerrix said.

There were no objections to the renewal resolution and it was passed.

Guizerix is positive about the work Hopkins does and the support the board gets from the city and mayor.

“I’m very proud of the work that is going on and really the city is very much a part of that,” Guizerix said. “Probably more than any other administration, this city administration is forward leading, and I think they understand and know the value of Main Street.”

The Vicksburg Main Street Program Taxing District encompasses much of downtown starting east on First East Street cutting south on Cherry Street moving east one block on China Street and continuing south on Adams Street incorporating Carr Central School and picking back up on Monroe Street. It heads north on Monroe and turns west down Bridge Street and continues east on Depot Street before it turns back north on Pearl Street and stops at the end of the street.