Business owners say they may reduce inventory

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 6, 2000

Daniels’ Basketry on Main Street is proof that its owner, Elaine Daniels, is a self-described &uot;pack rat.&uot;

But, the overflowing shelves of knick-knacks and ceramic figurines could soon be a little thinner because of a tax increase passed by Natchez Board of Aldermen Tuesday night.

Property is not the only taxable item included in the 13 percent increase in city ad valorem taxes. Car tags, utilities and businesses will also be affected.

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While residential properties are taxed at 10 percent of their assessed value, business properties are charged 15 percent.

Besides the structure itself, business owners pay additional taxes, at the same rate, on inventory and equipment.

Daniels told the mayor and aldermen that a tax increase would force her to cut back on inventory, which will in turn reduce sales tax revenues collected by the city.

&uot;It’s a two-edged sword,&uot; Daniels said.

Several factors, including the wide range in types and sizes of businesses in the city and county, make it difficult to determine what an average business is assessed at, said Adams County Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins.

For comparison purposes, a business within the city limits assessed at $100,000 with $150,000 worth of inventory and equipment currently pays $1,238 to the city and $1,935 to the county, for a total of $3,173 — not including school taxes collected by the county.

County businesses, as well as residents, pay a slightly higher county ad valorem tax, but are not subject to city taxes. The same business outside the city limits would pay $2,055 on property, equipment and inventory to the county. Assuming a 1.95 mill increase in county ad valorem taxes is approved, the same city business owner will face $3,405, and $2,128 outside the city limits.

Natchez business owners can expect a 4.119-mill increase in taxes from the city, and the county is also mulling a 1.95-mill increase. Business owners inside the city limits pay both city and county taxes.

Natchez businessman Eddie James doesn’t necessarily want to pay more in taxes, but he said the city needs more money to grow. &uot;Needless to say, no one wants a tax increase in the city or the county,&uot; James said. &uot;But we all have to be realistic about our times, and our costs are going up.&uot;

James, whose Natchez Steam Laundry is located on Main Street downtown, said he is counting on the downtown convention center and a proposed federal courthouse to increase traffic and business downtown.

&uot;I’ve got a very large investment downtown,&uot; he said. &uot;I&160;was raised in Natchez. If a tax increase is what’s best for Natchez, then that’s what we need.&uot;

Fran Ball Christie, owner of Christie’s Chevron on U.S. 61 North, won’t have to worry about paying city taxes. But the county’s proposed increase may be enough to force her to reduce inventory. &uot;I’m sure it’s going to affect me,&uot; said Christie. &uot;That’s money you could use to hire more people.&uot;

Last year’s county tax increase forced Christie to cut both inventory and employees. Christie said the increase in taxes she’ll have to pay personally could also affect what she can afford to pay for goods and services elsewhere in the county. &uot;That’s less money I can spend in my hometown,&uot; she said.