Jackson County residents knew it was coming, but few people could have been prepared for what they saw when they opened their 2008 property tax bills. Homeowners are being hit with taxes up as much as 100 percent.
The reappraisal was based on 2006 property values, values that were inflated by the lack of housing after Katrina. But South Mississippi home prices have been falling, down more than eight percent in the past year. Your house isn't worth twice as much if no one's willing to buy it for twice as much.
Our county, city and school district leaders could have prevented this huge tax hike, by cutting millage rates enough to make reappraisal revenue neutral. But they didn't.
We do give them credit for trying to get some relief for people over 65, by agreeing to send a letter to state lawmakers asking them to approve increasing homestead exemption for those seniors. But that relief won't come this year. And, it doesn't help those who are younger.
We urge Jackson County leaders to take more action now. Cut the millage rates and provide immediate tax relief to thousands of property owners. Without it, foreclosures could rise and spending at stores and restaurants will probably drop, impacting our sales tax collections. Certainly we do not want that to happen, especially in these tough economic times.
That's our opinion, we would like to hear yours. Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your comments below.