County can’t afford to give tax break to all residents

Published 12:11 am Thursday, September 3, 2009

NATCHEZ — While the Adams County Supervisors are planning to make good on their plan to lower the millage due to the property reassessment, not all county residents will see lower taxes.

Adams County Administrator Cathy Walker said if the supervisors would have cut the millage such that all county residents received a tax break, the county would not have enough money to operate.

“We just would not have enough money,” Walker said. “We would have had to start cutting services very quickly.”

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Current projections call for the millage to be dropped from 118.34 mills down to 110.12.

The 110.12 mills come from 62.22 mills collected by the county and 47.9 mills collected by the Natchez-Adams School District.

Supervisor Mike Lazarus said while the supervisors would have liked to lower the millage enough to provide a tax reduction for all county residents, it just was not possible.

“We just can’t cut that much,” Lazarus said.

Adams County Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins said the “very complicated” formula which provides his office with property assessments makes it “extremely difficult” to provide a simple answer as to why some people will see a reduction in their taxes and some won’t.

“Some home values went up more than others, and some houses are just more valuable than others,” Atkins said. “Everyone isn’t going to see the same increase or decrease.”

For most of 2008-2009 Atkins traversed Adams County to reassess its 18,000 parcels of land as mandated by the Mississippi Tax Commission.

Upward adjustments in the assessments and in the building index both worked to drive up the property taxes, Atkins said.

Since news of the reassessment, supervisors have been working to lower the millage to offset the reassessment.

On Wednesday county residents will have an opportunity to discuss the millage with the supervisors in the first of two public meetings.

And while the millage can still technically be changed, that likely won’t happen, Lazarus said.

“I don’t think we’ll need to make any adjustments,” Lazarus said.

Wednesday’s meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the supervisors’ office on State Street.