Gulfport Extends Tax Break Program

On Tuesday, the Gulfport City Council extended a tax incentive plan for two years, aimed at revitalizing the downtown area.

The program gives property owners a tax break if they invest money and renovate buildings that are 50 years or older. The program began seven years ago, and it's credited for breathing new life into the business district.

Eight years ago, Jerry Halderman and his wife transformed an 84-year old building on Highway 49 into their new home. The couple says it was an easy decision to move to downtown Gulfport, thanks to a program that gives tax breaks to people who renovate old buildings in the area.

"That's been really helpful, because after you've spent that much money, you don't need any extra taxes. So that's been real nice," Jerry Halderman said.

So nice, that the Haldermans now plan to take advantage of the tax incentive again for helping to fix-up another old downtown building to make room for a French cafe.

Here's how the tax incentive plan works.

Let's say you own a building that's 50 years or older in downtown Gulfport. If you spend a lot of money to fix up the building, you'd expect to pay more ad valorum taxes on it because it's assessed at a higher value. Under the tax incentive plan, owners will be exempt from paying the increased taxes for 7 years.

John Harrall is the president of the Gulfport Downtown Association. He said at least seven developers have taken advantage of the tax incentive program since it started.

"You might have buildings in downtown that nobody wants be in. Once it's renovated, it's a beautiful building. You get tenants moving in. You get increased sales taxes. So it's vital to redevelopment of downtown Gulfport".

The Haldermans hope the tax incentive will draw even more business downtown, and they look forward to seeing more neighbors move in.

"We'd like to see a grocery store down here, more places to eat. I think that's going to help us move people downtown, I think that's great," Halderman said.

Under the resolution approved Tuesday, the Gulfport City Council will also ask the Harrison County Board of Supervisors to extend the tax incentive program.

By: Trang Pham-Bui