County to mull tax decrease

Published 12:07 am Friday, August 4, 2017

NATCHEZ — Adams County taxpayers may get a break this year.

Some local officials think an overall reduction of the county’s millage rate is possible for the 2017-18 year.

The millage rate from the school board is expected to decrease, and Board of Supervisors President Mike Lazarus said he hopes the county can do the same.

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Lazarus said since he has been in office, the board has lowered tax rates twice, and thanks to assessed values going up he hopes the upcoming year can be the third time.

“It is looking good,” Lazarus said. “If there is room to give the taxpayer a break, I am all for it. At the end of the day, I am a taxpayer, too.”

Lazarus said the county is not currently far enough into its budget process to give a definite answer, and complications exist, including two county building roofs in need of replacement, Emergency Watershed Program matches, recreation and paving programs.

“I am hoping we can lower the millage rate some,” Lazarus said.

Not factoring the City of Natchez and the Natchez-Adams School District, the county’s millage is currently 61.94 for those within the city and 65.60 for those county-wide.

However, even if the county is not able to lower the rate, the school district’s millage rate is expected to be lowered from 53.05 to 51.63.

The school board is requesting $422,387 more from the county for operating expenses. But with the assessed value increasing and several new properties going on the tax rolls this year is causing the millage rate to be lowered.

The school board adopted a budget with $13,754,023 in ad valorem revenues. The district is allowed to ask for its previous years’ revenues plus an additional 4 percent of that amount.

NASD Business and Finance Manager Monica Anderson said the school board requested the additional 4 percent.

While the school board is looking to borrow $9 million to begin a building renovation and construction program in the district, the payments on the bond would not begin until next year. The bond would not impact taxes this year.

“At the end of the day, taxes are going down this year,” Lazarus said. “Everyone was ready to jump out of windows, but sometimes we all need to calm down and think before we react.”

School board member Phillip West said a few meetings ago he tried to explain to residents that it might be the case that millage would decrease.

“It is going down close to a mill and a half,” West said. “I am glad it has come down. I am glad that the overall assessed value in the county has increased. To me, this would mean that there would be no real increase on the average person’s taxes.”

Even though the $9 million bond would be paid back through a limited tax note of 3 mills, West said that does not necessarily mean taxes would increase.

“By next year (when the payments would be due), it could very well be that there would be no tax increase on our part,” West said. “If there was, it could be that it is very, very minimal.”