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Warren County supervisors approve five tax abatements, reject 12 Freeport Warehouse Exemptions

The Warren County Board of Supervisors approved five tax abatements, and rejected 12 Freeport Warehouse Exemptions, during their regular meeting on Monday.

Each of the abatements were approved by all but one Supervisor: William H. Banks, Jr., who represents District 2. District 5 supervisor Kelle Barfield recused herself from one of the votes due to a personal conflict of interest, but noted the abatements are a vital tool for general investors, especially when it comes to abandoned properties within the central business district and historic district. The abatements, Barfield explained, benefit investors by deferring increased taxes on improved property value.

Banks, however, had an alternate viewpoint.

“I want the citizens of Warren County to know that what they are doing is not a help to them, but it’s just moving tax dollars back to them, that they’re going to have to pay,” Banks said. “It’s just giving (investors) a break, but they are adding onto your tax responsibility.”

District 3 Supervisor Shawn Jackson echoed Banks’ sentiments, and inquired as to why some areas of Warren County are not eligible for tax abatements. Specifically, Jackson said she wanted to know what progress had been made by a committee formed to address the issue.

“It is awesome that, for the first time, Warren County is offering tax abatements for residents in certain parts of the city,” Jackson said.

Tax Assessor Ben Luckett said he had not yet officially met with the committee on that subject, but that the wheels were turning.

“It appears the majority of the city is already a part of the abatement program,” Luckett said.

Jackson pointed out that Kings, Marcus Bottom and Oak Street were not included in the program.

“There are some serious neighborhoods that cannot take advantage of these tax abatements,” Jackson said.

During their May 3 meeting, when the board of supervisors voted in favor of the tax abatements, Jackson said the county had “missed the mark.”

Luckett concluded by saying the committee hopes to move forward in their discussion of including more areas in the tax abatement program “in the near future.”