Natchez officials expand tax incentives for property improvements

Published 8:29 pm Wednesday, May 12, 2021

NATCHEZ — On Tuesday, City of Natchez officials amended a tax abatement incentive that has been in place more than 20 years to make it more available and affordable to residents.

“This is a revision that will open the City of Natchez up for more development,” Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said. “I’m excited about this.”

The revisions were passed unanimously by the Mayor and Board of Aldermen pending further review by Natchez City Attorney Bryan Callaway.

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The city’s previous tax abatement ordinance provides abatements to two of the seven historic districts in downtown Natchez and requires a minimum investment of $20,000 for a three-year tax abatement on improvements made to a property, excluding school taxes.

Further, the ordinance requires that 25 percent of improvements eligible for abatement be made to the façade of the property.

City Planning and Zoning Director Riccardo Giani said the revised version extends the incentive to all seven historic districts, eliminates the 25 percent façade requirement and reduces the investment required to $5,000.

Giani said the City Planning Commission is also drafting another ordinance that would extend the incentive out further and include residential districts such as Minor, St. Catherine and East Franklin streets and Woodlawn Avenue and not just historic districts.

“We know that other areas outside of the historic district in need improvements and need access to these incentives,” Giani said.

Amending the tax abatement ordinance was listed as a priority in the Downtown Natchez Revitalization Plan that the City of Natchez adopted in 2018.

In other matters during Tuesday’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen, the board:

  • Discussed the potential sale of Margaret Martin on Homochitto Street to the J Collection, which owns Dunleith. The J Collection made an offer of $75,000 for the property. The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously to make a counter offer of $105,000 — based on the average of two appraisals on the property. Gibson said city would waive any fees that can legally be waived that the J Collection would incur while renovating the former school into an extension of the Dunleith hotel and event space and offer a tax abatement on improvements made to the property.
  •  Granted approval for advertising for a full-time city parks and recreation director by a vote of 4-2 with Aldermen Billie Joe Frazier and Felicia Irving voting nay. Gibson suggested a salary $55,000 for the position and the applicant must have a bachelor’s degree and preferably a master’s degree. A heated discussion took place as Irving and Frazier asked why Faye Minor, who is currently a part-time director employed by the city and county, was not being offered the position instead of having to apply. Frazier moved that the decision be tabled so that the board could meet with the Adams County Board of Supervisors for further discussion and his motion failed by a vote of 2-4 with Frazier and Irving voting yes and Aldermen Valencia Hall, Sarah Carter-Smith, Ben Davis and Dan Dillard each voting nay.
  • Approved the closing of a portion of Broadway Street from Main to Madison streets to vehicle traffic for the Mississippi Mudbug Festival and Downtown Natchez Farmer’s Market on Saturday. The Farmer’s Market has been relocated to the section of Broadway Street in front of the Natchez Grand Hotel for the event.