Thursday, March 15, 2012
Rubbish pit passes Solid Waste Board
By SUE WATSON
A proposed Class I rubbish site in the Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park passed the Marshall County Solid Waste Authority Board and awaits the outcome of a vote by the board of supervisors.
The next step will be a public hearing to see how the citizens think on this proposal before it would be passed along to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for review.
Supervisors have been advised by their attorney, Kent Smith, to work out a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with John Porter and others involved in the plan to use 73 acres on two separate tracts that are adjacent as a rubbish site for items like construction wastes.
Smith said a tipping fee the partners would pay the county needs to be worked out first. The partners will also have to agree on how they will keep the roadside cleaned up and the county would have to approve a route to the property, the attorney said.
He said once the proposal leaves the county, it will be out of supervisors’ hands in terms of contracting with the group to pay the county for every ton or yard of construction waste that goes into the site.
County road manager Larry Hall said the rubbish pit “could be lucrative” for the county.
“It won’t become a cash cow for years,” Smith said. “Once it does, this board’s tipping fee needs to be where it will raise revenue for the county.”
Smith wants to work everything out before the board of supervisors gives the project its blessing.
Chancery clerk Chuck Thomas suggested the county tie the tipping fee to the mill rate, so the tipping fee would increase as the county grows.
Hall said the increase could be tied to the cost of living index.
Smith added that the county would be charged only half price for sending its waste to the proposed pit.
Supervisor Keith Taylor said once the rubbish site is approved by the state, it will be monitored by the state, not the county.
“That’s why it’s important to have it all set before they get it approved,” Smith said. “Right now this board has 100 percent jurisdiction over it. I will be glad to come up with a skeleton agreement.”
Hall said it would be advisable to talk to Tippah County supervisors to see how their rubbish pit agreement is working out.
“And make sure of the bonding of all the roads,” Taylor said. “They have the responsibility to pick up anything that falls off a truck on the side of the road.”
Consultant Gary Anderson notified supervisors of several bills that could affect counties. He said there is an effort by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association to get the Legislature to either eliminate the inventory tax or replace it with some type of tax credit. Counties levy personal property taxes on inventory (materials or type of inventory covered under the credit) still in stock at manufacturing companies, yearly.
Anderson said there is concern that if the Legislature passes the tax credit then fails at any time to fully fund it, “it falls back in your lap.”
Both the Senate and the House are working on a bill regarding how to handle inventory tax credits. In 2010 and 2011 there was an effort made to eliminate the inventory tax as there are not many states that still have it, Anderson said.
Bennett said the way the bill is stated in HB 536 is that the cities and counties would continue to assess the inventory tax, but the state would send any tax credit rebate back to the company. It would take effect in 2019, he said.
Anderson said he will ask Rep. Kelvin Buck to look at how the tax credit would affect revenues through time.
Bennett said the inventory tax was a “bad tax.”
“It eats up the value of products not sold, like at a parts store,” he said.
Zinn asked how the county determines what the actual inventory is that is assessed.
Tax assessor Juanita Dillard said the assessor’s office requests the amount of inventory on renditions that are mailed out each year. In addition to that, the personal property appraiser visits 25 percent of businesses that have assessments each year, so that every four years all businesses would be visited and assessed.
“It is a hit and miss kind of thing,” she said. “Any goods held over should be depreciated. It’s up to the business to stay on top of their own inventory.”
Supervisor Charles Terry said businesses should hold a sale and get rid of stock rather than pay inventory on it.
“It includes business equipment, too,” said Zinn.
“They should report a rendition on the inventory that has been deleted and what has been added,” Dillard said.
The ad valorem on the inventory tax brings in about a half a million dollars a year to the county, Dillard said.
Zinn raised a question about legislation that would affect illegal aliens in Mississippi.
Anderson said Gov. Phil Bryant, who is in favor of legislation, wants to make sure the state is not providing free healthcare and support services for illegal immigrants. He said new bills would be styled similar to those in Alabama and Arizona, where a person could be pulled over by law enforcement and asked for documentation even if there is no suspicion.
“I imagine lots of illegals are benefitting from healthcare and schools,” said Zinn.
Bennett said he knows of specific incidents where illegal immigrants are receiving assistance, provided they have a child born as a natural citizen in the United States.
“They are taking advantage of the system,” Zinn said.
Supervisor Keith Taylor said he knows of instances where one person who has legal status may register seven or eight vehicles under his name for use by those who are not legal in status.
Terry said instead of sending illegal immigrants away, the law should should send to jail the employer of illegal aliens to stop the revolving door (sending illegals home and their illegal return).
Taylor said illegal workers undercut jobs.
Zinn said the bricklayer has been undercut and the heating and air worker would be next to suffer from the hiring of illegal aliens.
Bennett added, “Workers in the roofing business can't compete when you pay $20 an hour and they (illegal immigrants) work for $10 an hour and pay no taxes.”
“Or workmen’s comp, the employer pays nothing,” Smith said.
“The law is only as good as the people who enforce it,” Taylor added.
“There needs to be some laws in place,” Zinn said. “It is hurting the school districts more than anywhere. Tennessee is flooded with illegals. They have an open door to everybody who comes up. They say they are promised an education.”
Anderson said illegal immigrants often can produce any document they are asked for and to ferret out the truly legal from the illegal immigrant costs employers lots of time. On the law enforcement side, agencies need to be spending their time tracking felons instead of being tied up with tracking illegals, he said.
On the other hand, there are more and more farmers’ co-ops in Mississippi that require foreign workers to gather crops. He said these farmers and the general public are concerned about higher costs of goods if foreign workers are not allowed to work in agriculture.
HB 488 that would allow schools and law enforcement to check the legal status of an individual when there is reasonable suspicion was one bill that made it through the deadline and stayed alive.
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