Housing refunds could take a bite out of budgets

A Supreme Court ruling says Section 42 housing developers should receive refunds.
A Supreme Court ruling says Section 42 housing developers should receive refunds.

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Several court cases on the state level could end up costing coastal counties a large sum of money. Harrison County and Jackson County may see the impact in a big way. A portion of the Harrison County burden would end up falling on the shoulders of Biloxi leaders.

It's something that stems from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Harrison County received a large supply of tax credits after the storm to help stimulate housing development. Section 42 developments were built and taxes were paid, but the developers are claiming wrong-doing by the tax assessors. The properties were assessed at net value including the value of the tax credits.

"So, if they've been put on at a full value, they're going to have to get some refund in some form or value," said Biloxi CAO, David Nichols. This is because the state Supreme Court has already upheld the legislation that allows these developments to be assessed without the value of the tax credit.

Now, cases are being reviewed that go all the way back to 2010. Over the past four years, those refunds add up to around $6 million for Harrison County alone. That kind of money could mean a lot to the county and city of Biloxi. "We could fund a policeman or a fireman or build a new park, so it is, in that regard, it's a significant amount of money," said Nichols.

The county is still reviewing the most recent cases and hasn't decided what course of action to take. But, if the verdict calls for a refund, each city will have to contribute a percentage to the payment. According to Nichols, that money will either be a credit to future funds, or the city will have to present cash money from the general fund. Either way, will the result effect taxpayers?

Taxes haven't increased for Biloxi citizens in 25 years. Council President Kenny Glavan says that won't be changing anytime soon.

No word yet on when court decisions will be made in regards to the tax refunds.

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