Thursday, September 22, 2011
Belt tightening holds taxes steady
By SUE WATSON
Even though the county projects an ad valorem tax revenue shortfall of $368,260 in the general fund and approximately $400,000 in the road and bridge fund in fiscal year 2011-2012, the taxpayers of Marshall County will not pay more taxes due to belt-tightening measures taken by supervisors.
Taxpayers in the towns of Potts Camp and Byhalia will not see an increase in ad valorem taxes, either, according to tax assessor and tax collector, Juanita Dillard and Betty Byrd, respectively.
The board of supervisors adopted a $17,856,426 budget last week. This projected budget consists of $12,420,484 (or 69.5 percent) coming from ad valorem taxes and $5,435,942 (or 30.5 percent) of the revenue coming from other sources such as land redemption fees and interest, licenses, permits, fines, etc.
The board of supervisors set the tax levy at 110 mills, the same as last year.
The dollars requested by the county school district remained the same as last year at $5,034,228.
Supervisors were able to hold taxes steady in the county by reducing expenditures in various ways to decrease the budget across the board by 3.1 percent, according to chancery clerk Chuck Thomas. The board also reduced expenditures in departments to slice the budget.
“The board realized we are in hard economic times and chose to cut the budget rather than pass increases on to the taxpayers,” Thomas said.
The county’s true value of real property dropped by about $1.362 million due to property sold to the state for I-269, Dillard said. But overall, the real property gained by about $1 million in true value over last year because of new construction or business. Otherwise, the county would have been up in true value by $2.362 million, Dillard said.
A shrinking tax base of about $5 million compared to fiscal year 2010 is accounted for largely by an approximately $7 million loss in personal property value due to closing of businesses, loss of homestead tax collections for those 65 and older and depreciation in value of vehicles and mobile homes, according to Byrd. Some taxing categories helped offset the $7 million personal property tax loss. Personal property losses accounted for the largest erosion of the tax base, Dillard and Byrd said.
If supervisors had not reduced the budget overall by 3.1 percent in the general county fund, the tax levy would have increased by 2 mills in the general county and 2.6 mills in the road and bridge department - or 4.6 mills overall, Thomas said.
The county valuation this year is worth $169,626,624, down $5,283,351 from last year which was at $174,909,875. The road and bridge valuation was worth $157,653,000, down $4,480,000 from what it was worth ($162,133,000) last year.
Three funds account for the greater part of the tax levy. General county levys 44.14 mills, the road and bridge fund levys 25.71 mills and the Marshall County School District levys 30.78 mills – a total of 100.63 mills. The remaining 9.37 mills goes for other levies to pay off bonds, support Northwest Mississippi Community College or for drainage districts or for police and fire protection, etc.
Thomas said owners of real property in most cases will not pay more in ad valorem taxes this year (2011 tax year) than they paid last year (2010) unless the owner has improved the property such as by adding a new roof, a new porch, or a new room to a structure or by adding a new building to a parcel.
An individual’s tax burden depends upon the value of what they own and where they reside, Byrd said. The school districts account for some differences in ad valorem taxes and those residing in towns or cities have to pay city or town taxes in addition to certain assessments for school districts and general county taxes.
There are 27 different categories of ad valorem tax assessments depending on where a property is located, Byrd said. This will be the subject of a later article.
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