New construction could add to city revenue without raising taxes

Published 12:06 am Friday, September 6, 2013

NATCHEZ — Because of new construction of houses and businesses, the City of Natchez could be collecting more ad valorem tax revenue in the coming fiscal year without actually raising tax rates.

Adams County Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins said a higher property assessment this year is mainly because of construction of new houses and businesses, such as Magnolia Bluffs Casino which opened in December 2012.

“That was one of the biggest ones I had,” he said.

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A higher property assessment means more revenue can be raised with the same millage rate.

When school districts, municipalities and counties levy property taxes, each mill levied raises $1 for every $1,000 for a property’s assessed value.

Since the city’s total value of assessed property is higher, less mills generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year.

For example, a rate of 40.47 mills for the next fiscal year will produce the same amount of revenue from ad valorem taxes for the city as was collected the current year. The millage rate for the current year is 42.73.

The city has the option of rolling back the millage for the next fiscal year to whatever it would take to generate the same amount of ad valorem taxes collected this year.

Mayor Butch Brown said, however, the city will likely keep the 42.73 millage rate, which will generate more revenue for the city.

Ward 6 Alderman Dan Dillard said the board of aldermen has not discussed rolling back millage. He said, though, he did not foresee the city reducing the millage.

Ward 1 Alderwoman Joyce Arceneaux-Mathis said evaluating millage could be a complicated and confusing process. She said before the city makes any decision on millage, she would like to get advice from City Attorney Hyde Carby and the Mississippi Department of Revenue.

Arceneaux-Mathis noted the confusion and controversy that followed the city’s reduction in millage and, consequentially, reduction in funding to the Judge George W. Armstrong Library in 2010.

The city then initially committed to providing the library with the same amount of funding as it had the previous year. But after a higher property assessment, the city subsequently reduced the library’s millage.

In an effort to avoid a similar situation this year, Arceneaux-Mathis said she wanted to make sure the board was fully informed before it acted on millage.