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Mill value increases in Lowndes, Columbus

 

Greg Andrews

Greg Andrews

 

 

Alex Holloway

 

 

Mill values for every tax-levying entity in Lowndes County appear to be up this year, according to preliminary figures from Tax Assessor Greg Andrews' office. 

 

The higher mill value, Andrews said, reflects industries in both the city and county that will begin paying their full share of property taxes this year, meaning the city, county and public school districts will receive more revenue. 

 

Columbus Municipal School District's mill value should increase from $206,000 last year to $209,000 for the 2017-18 fiscal year. 

 

Mills are used to calculate property taxes. Ad valorem tax revenue is based on the assessed value of real and personal property. So, the value of one mill helps public entities, such as counties, cities and school districts, determine how many mills to levy in taxes each year. 

 

CMSD Superintendent Philip Hickman said he's meeting with district board of trustees president Jason Spears today to discuss what the mill value increase means for the district. 

 

In June, the district indicated it will not seek millage rate increase, thanks to deferring $507,000 in debt by refinancing a 2009 construction bond and cutting 32 paraprofessional positions -- which will save more than $1 million more this fiscal year. The district is also looking at refinancing a 2008 bond. 

 

Last year, CMSD had to draw $1.2 million from its savings to cover its budget. The district had initially proposed a 6.1-mill increase that drew sharp public backlash. At the time, Hickman warned that CMSD could not draw again from its reserve fund, with the implication that a millage rate increase might be needed to make the FY 2018 budget work. 

 

But now, with the mill value rising and bond refinancing, Hickman said he's hopeful that district will avoid a millage increase. 

 

"If the program that we have in place reduces our debt, then we're hoping that's what we can do," he said. 

 

The city of Columbus' mill value is projected to rise from $179,000 to $191,000 for the fiscal year. 

 

Andrews said the increase is due to several factors, including new businesses in the city coming onto the tax rolls. He also attributed an increase in automobiles coming onto the tax rolls from the city's annexation portions of Lowndes County into east Columbus. 

 

In all, Andrews said, the mill value increase should bring the city about $500,000 in extra ad valorem revenue. A significant portion of that will come from Baldor Electric Company, which comes onto the tax rolls this year. 

 

"The city of Columbus has never received any money from Baldor," Andrews said. "They've had a 10-year exemption. This is the 11th year and now they're getting full taxes on Baldor. Out of that $500,000 increase, Baldor is going to increase about $250,000 of that." 

 

Mayor Robert Smith, speaking to The Dispatch after Tuesday's city council meeting, said he was pleased with the projected mill value increase. 

 

"I'm elated to find this information out, especially at the beginning of our budget process," Smith said. 

 

 

 

County and county school 

 

County and Lowndes County School District mill values are expected to see big increases for the next fiscal year. 

 

A LCSD mill are currently projected to jump from $318,000 to $433,000 this fiscal year. 

 

Last year, Andrews said, the district received $6.6 million in in-lieu taxes from businesses that were under tax exemptions. For FY 2018, the district will receive $4.3 million in in-lieu taxes. 

 

However, with major industries such as Steel Dynamics, Inc. coming fully onto the tax rolls from their exemptions, LCSD's ad valorem revenue will more than make up for the loss in in-lieu taxes. 

 

"At $318,000 a mill last year they were getting ($14.8 million) in ad valorem," Andrews said. "This year, they're getting $433,000 per mill. So that $14 million is turning into ($20.2 million)." 

 

The mill value will increase LCSD's ad valorem revenue by $5.3 million, Andrews said, for a net gain of $3.1 million with the decrease in in-lieu taxes. 

 

Values for the Lowndes County general, bridge and culvert and road maintenance funds are currently estimated to rise from $494,000 per mill to $613,000 per mill, Andrews said. 

 

The general fund and two road department funds make up the bulk of Lowndes' budget, Andrews, said. Last year, they accounted for 33.74 mills of the county's 40.01 mill-budget. 

 

Mills for the county mandatory fund, industrial development authority, Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District and East Mississippi Community College are projected to increase to $646,000 from $529,000. Millage for the mandatory fund, IDA, Tombigbee River Valley Water district and EMCC includes taxes from exempt industries, while the general fund and two road department funds do not, Andrews said. 

 

The tax assessor's office is continuing to review industry inventory for Lowndes County and LCSD, and Andrews noted the preliminary figures for those entities may change.

 

 

 

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