Jackson Co. to charge cities more for tax collection services

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Tight budgets in some Jackson County cities could get even tighter if they want to keep using the services of the county tax collector. The job costs the county more than it gets in fees, according to Tax Collector Joe Tucker.

One possible solution is to pass the price along to the cities.

"I want to make it clear, I don't have a problem with collecting city taxes. It is just that we need, at this time, to have some support for this office."

Tucker said his office is running in the red collecting taxes for three cities.

"We lost $70,000 in two years than what we anticipated."

To make up the shortfall, Jackson County supervisors have agreed to charge Ocean Springs, Gautier and Pascagoula about $10,000 more for the services.

"We do the billings, we do the collections, we do the settlements, and we do the tax sales," Tucker said. "It is a lot of things that we do behind the scenes besides just taking money."

Though the county has been collecting $2 for each transaction, it's just not covering the costs. Mayor Connie Moran understands having to make budget, but an increase will be tough to handle.

"This is not good news. We are facing higher utility rates, of course, as well this year. This is just another cost that's going up, and that means we will have to cut elsewhere."

Gautier's Mayor Tommy Fortenberry said his city is also dealing with an already stretched budget.

"We are trying to tighten our belt and move on and it is hard times for the county also."

But the mayor acknowledges the county provides a valuable service to the cities.

"I believe last year we paid right at $22,000 to the county," Fortenberry said. "I know the city could not have collected their taxes at that rate. And we wouldn't have the staff to do that."

Tucker said the cities have until the new fiscal year, which begins in October, to accept the new tax collection deal.

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