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: 307332

Reported Deaths: 7095
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20757248
Hinds19869408
Harrison17475302
Rankin13307275
Jackson13095243
Madison9886210
Lee9854169
Jones8289160
Forrest7522146
Lauderdale7185237
Lowndes6261144
Lamar610284
Lafayette6026117
Washington5279132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4440103
Pearl River4418139
Warren4277118
Marshall4267100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4056132
Union403575
Neshoba3984176
Lincoln3869107
Hancock371985
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3177104
Scott310472
Yazoo304268
Alcorn297664
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265679
Wayne261341
Leake260973
Grenada254882
Covington254380
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237647
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182354
Stone179131
Clarke176676
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163130
Yalobusha158636
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125833
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite119941
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105332
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95126
Humphreys94332
Franklin81723
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518588

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753351487
Mobile37698798
Madison33829494
Tuscaloosa25245443
Montgomery23942565
Shelby23094238
Baldwin20617300
Lee15510165
Calhoun14277311
Morgan14137268
Etowah13660345
Marshall11952219
Houston10379278
Elmore9988200
Limestone9806147
Cullman9467188
St. Clair9422234
Lauderdale9208227
DeKalb8745181
Talladega8042171
Walker7087275
Jackson6753110
Autauga6715103
Blount6480135
Colbert6200130
Coffee5397112
Dale4766110
Russell428238
Franklin419882
Chilton4080109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3892146
Escambia387574
Dallas3526149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305475
Lawrence295295
Winston272272
Bibb256258
Marengo248561
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218675
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176741
Monroe171240
Washington163838
Macon154348
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58624
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