Harrison County supervisors talk Top Ship tax break

Harrison County supervisors talk Top Ship tax break

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - For the second straight week, Harrison County supervisors talked about tax breaks the board approved for Top Ship.

That's the company investing $68 million at the old Huntington-Ingalls site on Seaway Road, with the promise of creating a thousand jobs.

"The horse is dead and I don't care how many times we beat it with a whip, it's not going to get up. It's a done deal," said supervisor Marlin Ladner.

He says the 10 year personal property tax exemption approved by the board for Top Ship, should have been just five years instead.

"That would give the board of supervisors an opportunity to review that exemption and if that company didn't fulfill the jobs that we thought they would do, then we have an option not to give them additional years on the exemption," said Ladner.

Harrison County development commission director, Bill Hessell, answered questions about the Top Ship tax breaks.

He told supervisors the actual statue allowing the exemption doesn't address job creation directly.

"The board of supervisors and development commission has always gone a step further and required jobs as part of the exemption, because we think jobs are just, or almost as important as the investment itself," said Hessell.

In the case of Top Ship, it's not just the promise of creating a thousand jobs, it's a pledge to retain them.

"It's not just we're going to reach that job limit, we're going to retain those jobs for a period of five years," Hessell told the board.

"The retention of the jobs, to me, is huge. That is a big difference," said board president, Beverly Martin.

The board attorney told supervisors they may have a chance to review the company's performance.

"Whatever they've met in the agreement, the MOU, if they've not met that, I think the board could challenge the continuation of the exemption," said attorney, Tim Holleman.

Bill Hessell told the board that Top Ship promises to create 700 jobs by the year 2020 and then hit the one thousand jobs mark by 2022.

Copyright 2016 WLOX. All rights reserved.