PASS CHRISTIAN (WLOX) - An 81-year-old Pass Christian man says he nearly fainted when he received a property tax bill 20 times what it was the year before the recent reappraisal. Now William Barrentine says what he can't get is a straight answer on why the taxes on his house have increased by so much.
William Barrentine and his wife decided to buy a house in Pass Christian 22 years ago. He says after retiring from General Electric he wanted to live in the town that held so many wonderful childhood memories.
"Every since I was a teenager in Greenwood, we come down here," said Barrentine. "I knew about Pass Christian, loved Pass Christian. Beautiful city. "
Barrentine says being able to pay the bills is a growing concern these days. He says most of his nest egg is tied up in General Electric stock which is way down in value. His wife recently became bedridden after a stroke. Then came another devastating blow.
"I almost went into shock when I got this huge tax bill when I'm sitting here looking at vacant lots," he said. "How in the world could my assessment go up 80-something thousand dollars?"
Barrentine says in 2007, his real property tax bill for the Harrison County, Pass Christian, and school taxes was $139.81. In 2008, the bill totaled more than $2,805.25 even with special homestead exemption given for people over the age of 65.
Barrentine said "I can't find anybody that's in charge. It's a round robin thing. They point at each other then they point to Jackson. I don't know. But somebody's got to be in charge. I know this from experience. If you tax and get the money you're going to spend it. So evidently they need the money but the question is where are they spending it and do they need this much money."
Barrentine says many of his neighbors have been struggling to move back to Pass Christian since Katrina because of flood elevation and insurance. He says high taxes is only adding to the rebuilding problems.
"I like to fainted when I got my tax bill," said Barrentine. "Would I come back if I was living up in Wiggins or someplace like that? Absolutely not. Not with the insurance. Not with the taxes."