Meridian Star

February 1, 2013

Proposed tax break could hurt the county’s coffers

By Terri Ferguson Smith / tsmith@themeridianstar.com
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     A proposed bill in Jackson that will affect the amount of tax dollars counties receive from some rental properties has the attention of the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors.

    At a work session on Thursday, District 4 Supervisor Joe Norwood asked the board to pass a resolution at its upcoming Monday meeting to oppose House Bill 835. He also wants the board to contact Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Phillip Gunn, and the local legislative delegation to inform them of their opposition.

    The bill would address how Section 42 rental properties are assessed, according to Steve Gray, Director of Governmental Affairs for the Mississippi Association of Supervisors.

    In a legislative alert issued on Wednesday, Gray said the bill gives Section 42 developers too much.

    Section 42 properties are affordable rental units for low-income individuals. Property owners get tax credits for investing in low-income properties.

    "House Bill 835 mandates the use of a document that the developers have chosen to establish the value of Section 42 housing properties utilizing the cost approach," Gray wrote in his alert to Mississippi supervisors. "This document will not consider all costs, mainly soft costs. In addition to the approach to value, the developers get a 65 percent tax exemption off the top of their valuations."

    Gray urged supervisors to contact local legislators and ask that they oppose the bill.

    State Rep. Chuck Young of Meridian said he will not support the bill in its current form.

    "The bill is designed to make adjustments in how the structure of taxation on Section 42 houses are made," Young said.

    Property owners want their Section 42 rental properties to be exempt for 65 percent of the property's assessed value, he said. That would mean a substantial loss in tax dollars to counties in the state.

    "Counties want to bring it closer to 100 percent of the real value of the property," Young said.