Board denies request to reduce property tax valuation

By PAT BROWN,

Despite the legal request  from Attorney Sheldon Austin to reduce the valuation of the natural gas storage facility Mississippi Hub, the Simpson County Board of Supervisors has opted to use the appraised value of the property which was submitted by Simpson County Tax Assessor Charles Baldwin for the tax rolls. 

The 22 billion gallon storage facility cost over $500 million to build approximately eight years ago.  Because of what Sheldon described as “economic obsolescence” the real value of the property has changed and is now  worth only about $101 million.  The county has it listed at almost $133 million for tax purposes.  The $101 million represents the part of the property that is in Covington and Jeff Davis counties also. 

According to Sheldon, that would leave Simpson County’s share of the value at $81.5 million in valuation.  These figures would directly impact the annual millage for the county as well as for the county school district. 

Sheldon told the board that the facility was built when there was a good margin on natural gas and the suppliers would buy low and sell high.  He said that is not the case because of the procedure of fracking for natural gas.   Sheldon said this relatively new procedure was “like cutting a valve on and you have what you need.” 

Supervisors Danny Craft and Mickey Berry expressed their disagreement with the valuation.  The board voted five to zero to retain the value submitted by Baldwin and not to approve the new valuation. 

A request also came in from G&R Realty of New York to reduce the cost of the taxes on the Magee Shopping Center based on the fact that they had lost their tenants, including Jitney, CVS and Jose’s Restaurant.  No one was there to represent the realty company.  The board did not approve the request. 

The board also denied a request from Section 42 government subsidy housing.  They were addressing the issue of the amount of rent income that was received on the property.  This did not represent the government subsidy. 

The board approved the 2019 property tax rolls for 2019. 

The board approved an exception to property owned by Poplar Springs Church which is to be used to expand the cemetery. 

In the Sheriff’s Department the board approved Shane Brown to attend the Law Enforcement Academy.  They approved the hiring of Beverly McWilliams and Shelly Nguyen as part-time dispatchers. 

The board discussed the purchase of vehicles for which they had approved $105,000 in the current budget.  Because the county is paying over-time settlement as well as two people in the position as sheriff, the purchases were not made.  However, the board approved spending up to $48,000 for Ford Explorers that are being taken out of service from the Tennessee Highway Patrol.  The vehicles are expected to cost between $5,000  and $8,000 each. This would allow for up to six additional vehicles for Simpson County. 

The board approved the plan to get rid of two 2017 John Deere tractors and the plans for purchasing two additional tractors for replacement.  The newer models are larger and have cabs for the drivers.  The new tractors will cost $63,342 each. 

The board approved moving the ambulance that was stationed at Pinola to Harrisville.  Part of a previous stated reason is the facility in Harrisville provides better accommodations for the ambulance staff when they are on duty. 

The board approved the annual software update for the election tablets in the amount of $3,267 at the cost of $99 each. 

The board went into executive session to discuss personnel matters in the road department. 

The next scheduled meeting of the board is a work session scheduled for Wednesday, August 14, at 8 a.m. for the purpose of budget preparation.  The next regular board meeting is set for August 15.