Biloxi changes tax abatement system for new restaurant - - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi changes tax abatement system for new restaurant

New Biloxi restaurant, Sal and Mookie's New Biloxi restaurant, Sal and Mookie's

A Biloxi tax abatement system that has been in effect for several years, has been changed for a restaurant developer. Prior to this year, the system was set to give a 100 percent tax abatement on improvements for seven years. This week, the Biloxi City Council decided to reduce that program for Sal and Mookie's restaurant.

Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer David Nichols said the council decided to make a change, so they implemented a five year graduated program. The first year's tax abatement stays at 100 percent, then drops to 90 percent the second year, 75 percent the third year, 50 percent in the fourth year, and just 25 percent the last year.

Nichols said the reason they didn't give the restaurant owner all of the tax breaks he wanted is because of projects like the Biloxi Baseball Stadium. He said the city needs typical tax payments to help pay its bills, like the stadium bond.

Community Development Director Jerry Creel isn't as worried about the stadium's cost.

"It in itself is going to generate revenue, and it's going to generate a lot of revenue producers around it, which are going to more than offset the payments necessary to pay the bond," said Creel.

Creel's debate point is that the situation will yield a win-win scenario for the city.

"That property, the land generates about $600 a year in land taxes. We'll continue to get that," said Creel.

He says he doesn't think there's a need to change the tax abatement system.

"We have an opportunity to get a building, a construction project worth $1.5 million on that piece of property that's going to generate a tremendous amount of sales tax revenue."

Creel worries that a reduced tax abatement system will drive developers away from the city.

The seven year, 100 percent tax abatement system is not permanently off the table. City officials say that each developer will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine economic impact and other factors before deciding on a tax abatement system.

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