Adams County denies tax appeal

Published 12:21 am Tuesday, August 2, 2016

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors denied Monday an appeal from Merit Health Natchez seeking an $8 million reduction in the hospital’s property tax assessment.

Tax Assessor Reynolds Atkins assessed the building and land value at $22,322,630, Comparatively, Merit Health representative Jenna Reyes said an independent appraisal of the building returned a value of $14.1 million, including renovations complete at the beginning of the year.

Reyes, who works with Property Valuation Services, said the independent appraisal was conducted because the supervisors rejected a similar claim this past year and Merit Health appealed the matter to 6th District Circuit Court, where the matter was dismissed. Property Valuation Services valued the property at $7 million in 2015.

Email newsletter signup

County Attorney Scott Slover said the method to reach the $14.1 million value was not proper, as it was taking distressed sales — including the county’s bankruptcy sale of the property to Merit Health’s parent company in 2014 — into account to drive down the value. Slover said the board should uphold its previous decision.

“We didn’t sell the hospital because we thought we were getting what it is worth,” said Board of Supervisors President Mike Lazarus. “No way.”

Reyes also brought forth concerns the old Community Hospital building, which is now vacant, is also being overvalued. Reyes said it is currently valued at approximately $4.5 million, and she said its value was approximately $1 million because the economic life of the building is complete.

Atkins said he agreed the building is a special use property. Beyond continuing as a hospital, he said no use for it likely exists.

Atkins suggested lowering the value of the building down to approximately $2.6 million, and the board of supervisors approved the decrease.

“I hate to give up revenue, but it is what it is,” Reynolds said.

Concerning taxable equipment, Reyes said the hospital continues to have a difference of opinion with the tax assessor concerning the software the hospital uses.

Slover said he agreed with the tax assessor — the particular software license is not on the list of exemptions.

The board denied the software request again this year.

Slover said the Merit Health took the county to circuit court over the issues of the software and the assessed value of the old Natchez Regional Medical Center building more than a month ago and their legal challenge was dismissed.

Slover said Merit has appealed the decision and the Mississippi Supreme Court can chose to hear it or submit it to the court of appeals for review.