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Tax increment financing could soon transform west Pass Christian

City leaders hope tax breaks will encourage development
Published: Oct. 19, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT
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PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (WLOX) - City leaders in Pass Christian are working to encourage more businesses to come to the city. Officials are hoping the development of a tax-increment financing district will help encourage more development.

The Board of Alderman voted 3-2 Tuesday to create the West Pass Station TIF district. It is a project that Mayor Jimmy Rafferty has pushed for, and one he believes could greatly enhance the amount of money circulating in the community. The property right now doesn’t earn the city a lot in regard to tax dollars.

“We get $504 per year now. Once it is fully developed, it equates to half a million for the city and also roughly $400,000 to the school system,” Rafferty said.

Many, including some of the other aldermen, do not believe the potential projects will bring in that amount of money.

“This project has not been approved by any financial institution yet so there is no guarantee that it will be a $54 million project,” said Alderman Victor Pickich.

Others stressed that the city needs more development to bring in more money, and the tax breaks granted by the TIF District could help lure development into the area.

“For this city to operate and to operate effectively, you need growth. A lot of people don’t want to hear that, but that is where it is at,” said Alderman Kirk Kimball.

Opinions from residents in the city were varied at the meeting, with some not a fan of the location. Others believe the proposed project that could take advantage of the tax breaks is too large and will fail.”

“I understand the city does need to grow but citizens do have an input on how they would like it to grow, and if they are going to incentivize growth, encourage growth, we have a right to have an input,” said resident Jacqueline McWilliams.

A public hearing took place and notice was given. However, several community members stated they learned about it just prior to the meeting. Some of those residents expressed concern that the location of the district was decided prior to the public hearing.

This is not the first time TIF funding has been used on the Coast. Several other communities have created districts to encourage development and it’s a fairly common practice.

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