Harrison County raises fee for tax services to cities

By Steve Phillips - bio | email

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - The five cities in Harrison County will be paying more for tax services next year. County supervisors agreed Monday to a 50 percent increase in the rate charged to cities for tax assessment and collection.

But despite the increase, the county tax collector says the cities are still getting a bargain.

"Remember, cities are struggling, but you all are struggling too. Everywhere you've got costs increasing in all things. This is simply a re-distribution of the pie a little bit," Tax Collector David LaRosa told the Board of Supervisors.

Harrison County's tax collector and tax assessor told supervisors the five cities are getting a bargain for their services.

The five cities pay two dollars a parcel for the county to assess property and send out the tax bills. That rate has stayed the same since 1991, despite the rising cost of Harrison County providing the service.

"We do about 450,000 transactions a year in the tax collector's office. And our costs go up every year. And the cities have basically had that greatly reduced rate in 1991 dollars too," said LaRosa.

Each city must still okay an interlocal agreement with Harrison County to continue providing those tax collection services.

"In order for them to approach the cities, we're going to have to approve, this is what the Board of Supervisors approved. Take it to them and let's go from there, and see what happens," said Supervisor Kim Savant.

"I wouldn't think they'd have a lot of heartburn with it for the service they get," said LaRosa.

LaRosa said even with the 50 percent fee hike, cities are still getting a deal, especially when you consider some tax collectors charge a flat three percent of collections.

"For example, if we were doing that in Harrison County, that would be $6 million. And we're getting like $170,000 to $180,000 right now."

Supervisors approved the fee increase on a three to two vote.

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