Mississippi Hub appeals for tax reduction

By PAT BROWN,

Mississippi Hub, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy, has appealed to the Simpson County Board of Supervisors to consider a reduction in taxes for the upcoming year.

The company’s valuation on real and personal property is almost $386 million, which required them to pay the county $2,113,000 for 2017. This was done as a fee in lieu of taxes based on the size of the investment. 

The 2018 value is $378 million, which would require them to pay $2,074,000 in taxes.  They have requested a reduction in the valuation of their plant, thus reducing their tax obligation. 

Jerry Acey, accountant with Sempra Energy, explained that they would like the county to consider the reduction based on a drastic drop in the value of their plant to 25 percent of their original cost.  Acey told the board that when the plant was built the natural gas units that were selling for 16 cents are now selling for 4 to 5 cents. 

This drop has reduced the need to store natural gas.  It was bought low and sold high, and the value of the plant has plummeted to a real value of about $66 million, using a valuation based on either a cost approach or income.  Acey said Sempra showed a $500 million loss for the second quarter of this year.  The $66 million is based on a recent sale of a storage facility; however, there are distinct differences that made the comparison difficult.

He said the plant currently employs 16 people.  The plant opened in 2008 with the first cavern operational in 2010 and two more coming on line afterwards. 

It was recently announced that the facility is for sale. 

County Tax Assessor Charles Baldwin told the board that a 15 percent reduction in taxes would leave the company paying the county $1,819,000 in taxes for the upcoming year. 

The Board of Supervisors did not act on the request but was expected to take the issue back up at the next meeting on August 15.  Because of the size of the original investment in excess of $200,000,000 Mississippi Hub was given the fee in lieu of taxes exemption. 

It was reported that AT&T is planning to build a cell tower on  Boykin Road.  The board instructed county engineer Buddy Wolverton to notify AT&T that a $2,500 permit fee is due to 911 for the tower.  

Stan Alford reported that plans for the AMR air ambulance service are progressing rapidly and the service may be online before expected.  The agreement for service is being processed with Magee General Hospital, and the Magee Airport will provide fuel and service. 

Magee Mayor Dale Berry told the board about the local effort to have a petition signed to legalize liquor in the county.  He said if the county does not sign the petition and then vote in favor of the legalization that “Magee and Mendenhall will be ghost towns compared to Collins in 10 years.”  Board member Randy Moore suggested that the referendum should include beer sales in the entire county. 

The board agreed to the transfer of a county four-wheel drive pickup truck to the D’Lo Water Park to haul equipment on the river. 

The board approved a new process for the sale of delinquent tax properties.  It will be done online through a company called GovEase rather than being auctioned on the steps by auctioneers.  The change is projected to raise an additional $27,000 in revenue for 2018.  The company will make their money on overbids at the rate of .0125 percent of the overbid.  If there is no profit on the sale, meaning it only bids for what is owed, then nothing is due to the company.  

The board approved the reclassification of Alex Turner in the Sheriff’s Department to certified detention officer.  They approved hiring Cornelius Rawls and Lavallin Skiffer as part-time detention officers. 

The board approved appointing R. D. Nelson to the Simpson County Park Commission for District 2. 

The board approved a 48 month lease agreement on a new garbage truck chassis with Trustmark in the monthly amount of $2,287. 

The board okayed a request to use the courthouse square for a health fair.  

The board approved the disbursement of funds to the local fire departments as rebates in the amount of $485.12 each and also the insurance rebate checks in the amount of $15,997.86 for each department. 

There was discussion about a grant and funds from Central Mississippi Development District for up to $150,000.  Conversation focused around grants for litter as well as work to Bowen Road or to the industrial park in Mendenhall. 

The next regular scheduled meeting of the board is set for August 15, however the board is scheduling budget planning workshops starting on August 13. 

The board acknowledged the increase into PERS which is the state retirement program from 15.75 percent to 17.4 percent beginning July 1.