Board votes down IP, Manville tax breaks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2003

NATCHEZ &045;&045; Supervisors voted in a Thursday special meeting not to grant either International Paper or Johns Manville a break on ad valorem taxes.

&uot;Johns Manville had already been given a reduction last year &045;&045; about $656,000,&uot; said Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins, who recommended to supervisors that neither assessment be changed.

As far as IP was concerned, the vast majority of exemptions the company had asked for were for school taxes, &uot;and under state law you can’t get out of that,&uot; Atkins said.

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&uot;That was a hard decision,&uot; Atkins said, referring to his recommendation on IP’s request. &uot;They’ve been a good neighbor for many years. But if we take (part of their tax bill) away from then, who’s going to pay for it?&uot;

Besides, Atkins said, the county is already facing a budget crunch &045;&045; even before the county feels the true economic impact of the closing of IP’s Natchez mill, which shut its doors July 31.

As of now &045;&045; although that may change, depending on what tax levy county supervisors approve next week &045;&045; IP would pay the county $2,812,237 on land, buildings and property combined.

That’s based on a valuation of $181,633,937 on property at IP’s Natchez mill. Johns Manville’s property is valued at $16,587,980 and would owe $249,322 in taxes, according to figures from the Tax Assessor’s Office.

Also in Thursday’s meeting, supervisors approved extending the life of the countywide Recreation Commission for another year to allow the group more time to &uot;sell&uot; a countywide recreation plan to voters.

As it now stands, a plan for facility improvements and construction &045;&045; and for funding the project &045;&045; would be placed on the ballot for voters in November 2004.

At least 60 percent of those voting would have to cast their ballots for the plan for it to pass.