BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Millions of dollars went into building it, but now the Casino Magic Biloxi building has been deemed worthless. Biloxi officials said the city hasn't collected a dime on the building in years because Harrison County's assessed value of the structure is zero.
After years and years of looking at an empty Casino Magic tower, Biloxi officials got some good news two weeks ago.
"We were very happy that a contractor came in a couple of weeks ago to pull a permit to clean the building out," said Community Development Director Jerry Creel.
Biloxi officials said while they're glad Casino Magic will be gutted out, they're unhappy that the building adds nothing to the city coffers.
"Prior to Katrina, the Casino Magic Casino had an improvement value, a structure value of over $40 million," said Creel.
He said the city expected the value of commercial buildings to decline after Hurricane Katrina.
"After Katrina, the value of that building was dropped to $9 million. But even more surprising was the next year the value was dropped to zero," Creel said. "It's hard to believe that building with everything it has is worthless. "
Casino Magic isn't Biloxi's only worthless building. Creel said several structures within the city's blighted building program having an assessed value of zero. So the city had an attorney examine the impact.
"The city's part, from the time the buildings were dropped to zero to April of last year, the city had lost almost $4 million in property taxes and improvement taxes."
City officials say these zero values make putting pressure on owners of blighted properties difficult.
"One of the things that keeps a developer motivated, or a property owner motivated to do something with a building to either try to get a tenant into or demolish, it would be taxes on structures that they're not using," said Creel.
"When the value of that structure is dropped to zero, we rob that property owner of any incentive to do anything with it. There is no money coming out of their pocket."
Biloxi officials say while the city, county, and school district don't receive any taxes on the buildings themselves, the land taxes are still being collected.