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.

Cases: 250869

Reported Deaths: 5481
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto16841171
Hinds15890312
Harrison13037191
Rankin10439205
Jackson10128177
Lee8721135
Madison8071160
Jones6166108
Forrest5870117
Lauderdale5724177
Lowndes5238109
Lafayette486192
Lamar475363
Washington4734122
Bolivar3941106
Oktibbeha388179
Panola360475
Pontotoc358752
Monroe3487103
Warren337895
Union337457
Marshall336065
Neshoba3325150
Pearl River319492
Leflore2980104
Lincoln293385
Sunflower277569
Tate266659
Alcorn260651
Itawamba258858
Pike258176
Hancock253557
Prentiss242450
Scott241043
Yazoo237754
Copiah237449
Tippah236246
Simpson232367
Leake227864
Coahoma223154
Grenada215770
Covington208871
Marion206171
Adams201666
Winston198061
George197438
Wayne196130
Attala191658
Newton186542
Chickasaw181243
Tishomingo179659
Holmes167867
Jasper165134
Clay156732
Stone140218
Tallahatchie138234
Clarke136460
Calhoun133321
Smith118823
Yalobusha113834
Walthall111136
Noxubee109622
Greene108929
Montgomery108134
Carroll103721
Lawrence101217
Perry99131
Amite96425
Webster90624
Claiborne85125
Tunica84521
Jefferson Davis83825
Humphreys81524
Benton80323
Kemper75720
Quitman6758
Franklin65315
Choctaw59613
Wilkinson58125
Jefferson53019
Sharkey42417
Issaquena1586
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 417528

Reported Deaths: 6030
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson61313888
Mobile29768542
Madison26637185
Tuscaloosa20580268
Montgomery18696304
Shelby18310113
Baldwin16002179
Lee12261101
Morgan12093112
Etowah11604157
Calhoun10982200
Marshall10108107
Houston8474129
Cullman7960104
Limestone790174
Elmore7723101
DeKalb764697
St. Clair7460120
Lauderdale745183
Talladega6102108
Walker5852174
Jackson574441
Blount526483
Colbert525670
Autauga510355
Coffee434256
Dale391081
Franklin363445
Chilton333565
Covington326167
Russell323810
Escambia312442
Dallas300296
Clarke278233
Chambers277869
Tallapoosa2599107
Pike245829
Marion240549
Lawrence240447
Winston223835
Bibb213047
Geneva197431
Marengo197329
Pickens195231
Hale173742
Barbour171236
Butler167958
Fayette166026
Cherokee159630
Henry151119
Monroe144417
Randolph138535
Washington136526
Clay125246
Crenshaw118044
Lamar116619
Cleburne116023
Macon113335
Lowndes108735
Wilcox101221
Bullock98128
Perry95419
Conecuh92920
Sumter88726
Greene75323
Coosa60414
Choctaw51224
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