Harrison County Could Pay For Imperial Palace Tax Ruling

Harrison County's tax assessor is Tal Flurry. He said the Monday court ruling that slashed Imperial Palace's tax bill could raise milage rates.

While Harrison County tax assessor employees worked with customers, Flurry sat at his desk and tried to figure out what to make of the ruling. "It would, or could possibly increase the taxes on personal property, car tags and mobile homes," he said.

A special chancellor determined the Imperial Palace hotel had an $83 million value -- significantly less than what Harrison County assessed in 2000, 2001 and 2002. The ruling meant the hotel would pay $1.9 million less in taxes than the county originally expected.

Joe Meadows is the attorney for Harrison County's Board of Supervisors. "Anytime you have a possibility of loss of tax revenue, it's substantial," he said. "Everybody is scrambling for money and tax revenues. So anytime that happens, it can be damaging."

At this point, nobody knows whether the Imperial Palace tax case will cost Harrison County taxpayers any additional money.

"I think we're concerned about that," said board president Marlin Ladner. "I think it impacts our plans for the future and any budgetary money. But we will deal with whatever we have to deal with."

When the tax assessor's office billed Imperial Palace in 2000, it used a cost adjustment tool called a location index. At that time, Harrison County's index was 1.25%. But in court papers, the special chancellor said that tax was 25% too high. He said nobody in the county should have been charged more than 1% for labor and materials used on a property.

According to tax assessor Flurry, the location index ruling "means that we will probably have to go back and look at the index." Flurry will start working on an updated index in the next few days.

Harrison County supervisors don't have another meeting scheduled until July seventh. That's when they should decide whether to appeal the Imperial Palace tax ruling.