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8 of 399 RESULTS Copy Story Share Mississippi lawmakers seek to widen property tax break

Mississippi lawmakers want to open one of the state's richest tax incentive programs to smaller projects, in hopes of helping the state recruit more businesses.

Posted: Mar 17, 2018 11:11 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers want to open one of the state's richest tax incentive programs to smaller projects, in hopes of helping the state recruit more businesses.

Senate Bill 2479 , which passed the Senate on Thursday, awaits Gov. Phil Bryant's signature or veto. It would allow local governments to cut local and school property taxes by two-thirds on economic development projects worth $60 million or more.

Right now, the project must be worth $100 million or more to qualify.

Although any one piece of real estate or equipment can only get a break for 10 years, the bill says industries would get to use the abatement on expansions for 30 years, up from the current 20 years.

"This is a very positive bill that will enhance our economic development efforts in Mississippi," said Chad Newell, president of the Hattiesburg-based Area Development Partnership. "We obviously work on more $60 million deals than we do on $100 million deals."

Called a fee-in-lieu of taxes agreement, the reduction can be worth tens of millions of dollars to the largest industries. Madison County, for example, reduced Nissan Motor Co.'s property taxes nearly $70 million from 2004 to 2015, according to figures provided by the Madison County tax assessor to The Associated Press.

Right now, for developments worth less than $100 million, cities and counties can abate taxes for 10 years, but can't cut school property taxes. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, a Sumrall Republican, told senators Thursday that a company was considering building a $70 million-plus distribution center on the Jones-Forrest county line near the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport, but it was too small to meet the current threshold. He said county supervisors were willing to cut taxes, but "they simply just didn't have the legislative authority."

The Mississippi Development Authority lists only eight projects that it has assisted since 2010 that fall in the $60 million to $100 million bracket, but Newell said there are others, such as three recent solar farms built near Hattiesburg, that also would have qualified.

"There are real projects out there looking to come to our areas that would use this," Fillingane said.

Some lawmakers and economic recruiters had favored lowering the threshold to $20 million, which would have opened the break up to many more developments, but lawmakers ultimately rejected that.

A few lawmakers questioned the move, though, asking if it would mean higher taxes for homeowners and small businesses.

"Are you concerned that the school districts are going to raise taxes on everybody to make up for this reduction?" asked Sen. Angela Hill, a Picayune Republican.

However, using reasoning common to economic incentive deals in Mississippi, Fillingane suggested it would be better to get some revenue from an expansion than to lose out entirely.

"A break on something is better than nothing," Fillingane said.

David Rumbarger, president of the Tupelo-based Community Development Foundation, said the fee-in-lieu arrangement also allows local governments to use the revenue they do get to finance infrastructure improvements.

"The idea is for more projects to be competitive on a state-to-state basis," Rumbarger said. "If you're able to compete for the project and get the fee in lieu, it's newfound tax revenue."

The measure also includes a special provision that would allow Winston Plywood & Veneer to count federal disaster relief money received after a tornado struck Louisville in 2014 to qualify for the tax exemption threshold.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 16769

Reported Deaths: 803
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds107426
Madison76728
Lauderdale75968
Neshoba72844
Jones70133
Scott66312
Forrest59539
DeSoto57510
Rankin4569
Leake45212
Holmes44330
Copiah3294
Jackson31415
Attala31118
Yazoo2964
Newton2884
Lincoln28031
Leflore27736
Oktibbeha27314
Harrison2697
Monroe26925
Wayne2623
Lamar2505
Lowndes2479
Pearl River21231
Pike20411
Adams20316
Washington1987
Warren19610
Lee1948
Noxubee1936
Covington1792
Bolivar16911
Jasper1674
Clarke15619
Smith15511
Kemper15511
Lafayette1544
Chickasaw14014
Coahoma1314
Clay1254
Winston1241
Carroll11911
Marion1169
Claiborne1155
Lawrence1071
Grenada1074
Simpson1040
Yalobusha1046
Sunflower923
Tate911
Hancock9012
Union897
Itawamba897
Marshall873
Wilkinson859
Panola843
Montgomery841
Webster844
Jefferson Davis823
Tippah7611
Calhoun674
Amite661
Walthall640
Humphreys637
Tunica583
Prentiss533
Perry513
Choctaw502
Pontotoc473
Jefferson421
Tishomingo360
Greene331
Stone320
Quitman320
Tallahatchie301
George292
Franklin292
Alcorn191
Benton140
Sharkey70
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 19073

Reported Deaths: 672
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Mobile2321118
Jefferson1901104
Montgomery185843
Tuscaloosa83616
Marshall7089
Franklin5858
Lee56234
Shelby52819
Tallapoosa43466
Butler42118
Walker3862
Elmore3749
Chambers36026
Madison3534
Unassigned3062
Morgan3021
Baldwin2939
Dallas2923
Lowndes26512
Etowah26312
DeKalb2573
Autauga2415
Coffee2391
Sumter2287
Houston2265
Bullock2176
Pike2120
Colbert1902
Hale1859
Russell1810
Barbour1771
Marengo1756
Lauderdale1722
Calhoun1673
Wilcox1577
Choctaw15310
Cullman1521
Clarke1492
St. Clair1351
Randolph1287
Dale1240
Marion12411
Pickens1205
Talladega1195
Limestone1080
Chilton1071
Greene954
Macon934
Winston910
Jackson833
Covington821
Henry822
Crenshaw783
Bibb761
Escambia753
Washington736
Blount631
Lawrence510
Monroe462
Geneva440
Perry430
Conecuh411
Coosa401
Cherokee383
Clay282
Lamar280
Fayette160
Cleburne151
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