Casinos, Vicksburg, and your taxes

Our city leaders are gambling on casino money. The city budget is prepared with the expectancy that the steady flow of dollars from the boats will continue, and they must if we are to continue to maintain the new landscaping, parks, sports arenas, the senior center, etc., etc. Despite the influx of money from casinos and higher property taxes, our mayor has indicated he would support a general tax increase. He has also been quoted as saying that costs of water, gas, and garbage pickup may not be increased this year. However, a Post article stated that replacement of two water tanks at the wastewater treatment facility might result in an increase in the water rate. Another large expenditure, the new $16.9 million bond issue, must also be repaid by taxpayers.

Given the fact that our citizens are already paying higher property taxes and water, gas, and sanitation rates that have soared since this administration took office, one would rather hope that some relief would be considered. Many families are already struggling to pay their utility and grocery bills each month.

Vicksburg would be in deep trouble if we were to lose the casino revenue to which our leaders are addicted. On the state level, there are reports that the casinos are making an effort to influence state congressional leaders, and if they do so, they may be asking for relief themselves. Bobby Moak, chairman of the House gaming committee, has received at least $25,000 from the gamblers. Among the 2007 candidates accepting contributions from the casinos, many will be members of the gaming committee. They are listed here:

 

http://www.afa.net:80/gamblingcontributions.htm

 

As long as the national and local economies do not suffer a significant setback, the citizens of Vicksburg will probably be able to manage the additional costs of living. One would hope, however, that city leaders would establish a “rainy-day” fund that could be used in case things don’t work out as well as expected, and limit themselves to expenditures that are absolutely necessary.

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Published in: on August 17, 2007 at 3:17 pm  Comments (13)  

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  1. everyone wants to know where all the gaming money is going. Becouse none of it hasn’t been used to improve thing. And whose getting the fat bank accounts locally?

  2. Chuck, the money has been used to improve the substructure of the city and the visual appearance of the city.

    One you can see, one you cannot.

    County and city government are primarily charged with maintaining protection and survival items for the citizens. That includes things like water and sewage, police protection, road and sidewalk maintenance and dog pounds. Vicksburg was under funded by taxes and decaying for decades since the cotton industry moved to another mode of transportation. When the casinos came here they provided much needed cash from taxes.

    The city had to upgrade the seriously outdated and under-maintained water lines, sewage lines and gas lines. With the exception of water lines that work is well down the road and the big money has been spent. It was money smartly and well spent. We will not need this kind of expenditure for many years if the current maintenance program continues.

    The city work force has been designed to maintain the substructure in a ‘like new’ mode. That means when a repair is made it is made to the highest quality and technology available. The benefit of doing that is it only has to be fixed once. It’s kind of like a car repair, you can patch it and hope for the best or you can pay once to have it fixed correctly. Pay me now or pay me later.

    The waste in taxes locally is the support of two governments – county and city, who provide the same services. The only reason we do not have one government and one tax is because those on the county board hold their positions in a higher esteem than they do the citizens of Warren County. If the board truly were interested in the good of the people then the board would support a plan to represent all of Warren County, four aldermen and a Mayor. The aldermen would represent the North, South, East and West corners, with each having a portion of the county and city in their representative areas.

    The citizens of Warren County would benefit from one administration composed of five individuals instead of two administrations composed of 8 individuals. At the minimum that one act would represent a reduction of $165,000 in payroll cost. Additional benefits would be one police force, one dog pound, one building for administration and one road department to just name a few. The most important benefit would be the available resources and focused nature of one direction for Warren County.

    Just imagine, your services improve, your taxes go down and there is still more money left over than before because it’s what is right for Warren County instead of just benefiting the Warren County supervisors.

    Your suggestion that someone in office is nefariously benefiting financially from taxes is correct – eliminate the Warren County board.

  3. I have seen improvements afraid. But the consensus there hasn’t been any other improvements. I haven’t seen more roads improved. Speaking of taxes this small town is over taxed. I believe that’s why no business don’t want to locate. And those taxes that can’t be seen need to be brought to light. Since the casinos have moved real estate, apartmetmental rentals are spiked up. It hasn’t sparked gtowth that’s reality of it. Drive around and see the vacantcies. And money is moving out here. Big time. Think about how money is moving out here. No new business haven’t moved in at all.

  4. Chuck the improvements exist. They are not of the grand and glorious superficial kind of past administrations. They are the necessary kind that does not garner appreciation until long after they are done. Some with an agenda will push them aside; those with community at heart appreciate them.

    The taxes here are in proportion to a town this size nationwide but high for Mississippi, I assume that is what you mean when you say, “Over taxed”.

    The real estate spike came when Grand Gulf built the power station and the need for housing increased in the region, not just Vicksburg. The casinos did not have the same immediate effect on property taxes. They did have a positive effect on property values and the city valuation. Once all five casinos became viable businesses another positive effect was the attractiveness of our community to people with money.

    If you check nationwide cost of housing and general cost of living you will see that Vicksburg is well below the national average in housing cost, food cost and taxes. Vicksburg still represents a tremendous value.

    I don’t see the vacancies in housing you are referring to. There is a major gap in housing cost in this city. The under $100,000 homes are in undesirable areas for most homeowners. The over $200,000 homes are abundant but out of range for most homebuyers. It’s the 100 to 200 thousand-dollar ranges that are lacking in this area.

    The Oak Street corridor project is addressing the under $100,000 issue. A home in that area is cheap, but the neighborhood needs some sprucing up to attract the buyers. The problem with the 100 to 200 thousand dollars homes is the ability of the builders to make a reasonable profit. Since Katrina raw material cost have skyrocketed. If builders can’t make money building them, why would they?

    Finally on the issue of money and businesses moving out of here we again should focus on the Warren Country Board of Supervisors. They have the inventory tax that penalizes a business for keeping inventory and equipment in this county.

    When a large corporation with many plants takes its annual look at the profitability of its plants, that inventory tax is a real stink bomb. If that corporation has a downturn in sales they must look at closing plants that produce their product.

    Let’s look at this example of how that corporation is going to decide which plant to keep open:

    Plant A is in Warren Country. Plant B is in Hinds County. The plants are comparable in all aspects of production and related cost of production – labor, raw materials and the physical plant itself. Plant A in Warren County outshines Plant B in Hinds County because of the hard working and highly productive staff available in Warren County. But after all plant related issues are configured Plant B in Warren County produces more profit to the bottom line. Upon investigation it is discovered the Inventory Tax in Warren County makes that plant less profitable than the less productive plant in Hinds County. The large nationwide corporation will keep the more profitable plant open, not the most productive.

    That is exactly why a corporation will have second thoughts about operating here. It is exactly why corporations will leave here.

    Get rid of the inventory tax, it is the only local tax that makes no sense and is actually harmful to the business climate.

  5. I disagree with you Afraid. I lot of people I know have told me that the real estate prices shot up after the boats moved in. I’m now hearing about foreclosures in this market as well. A lot of foreclosures. Which are a spinoff the the Subprime mortage meltdown. So don’t try lay on the Grand Guld nuclear power plant issue for a basis of over priced real estate markets. Drive around in the subdivisions you’ll see vacant homes. If housing units are being sold here: where’s the big news about it?
    Madison Ridgeland and Brandon seem to be bucking the real estate bubble. I don’t here anything about this market doing the sameing.

  6. Chuck, yes property values increased after the boats arrived. It was not an immediate and drastic increase. It was a gradual increase. If you were to adjust the increase to the cost of living it was a minor increase at best. In the past 7 years values have increased more than they did the prior 8 years, when the boats began. The recent increase in value is due to this administrations efforts to improve city services and its appearance. It is working and it is a good thing.

    The drastic increase came when Grand Gulf began construction. Overnight, literally within a couple of months, the value of a home went up 11% in southern Warren county and almost 7% county wide. After the boats there was a 6 % bump over 3 years. Adjusted to the post 9/11 economy and COLA is was higher than the national average. The national housing boom restarted in 2003 once people felt safe in American real estate and the economy began its recovery.

    The information you suggest doesn’t prove out. Public perception of value is a factor, especially in stocks, but real estate is based upon what someone pays for it in price or taxes.

    There are Realtors locally who try to influence value by listing a property well above what someone is willing to pay. You can tell who they are by how long their sign remains in front of an overpriced property. Agreeably some properties will stay on the market because of their high asking price, especially historic homes.

    Check the city web site for the numbers.

  7. Then in late 2005 the real estate bubble started. In the housing sectors gradually housing units didn’t sale. The back in the late winter the Subprime mortgate meltdown hit. As of today there are over 35 foreclosures or more in regards to HUD homes. Also there over 75 bankruptcies in this town alone. I would say people would strong disagree over the nuclear power plant which is past history to some. Reality of the subprime has hit here. Becouse the realtors are the ones talking. I learned my information from Google search. And last night I learned that there is going to be a congressional hearing into the subprime mortgate mess becouse it has been spreading into all sectors of the global markets. Plus I watch CNBC from time to time.

  8. Excellent post Chuck!

    Keep searching for information and never accept something because you are told it is true. An informed voter is becoming more and more rare.

    You are my new hero.

  9. Afraid don’t worry I do. I just heard more on the news too about foreclosures related to subprime. Like July had a high number of foreclosures with Ohio,Georgia I can’t remember the other three states but that’s the news. At times pay attention to the stock market too,subprime isn’t fading away. I can tell u it has created jitters with Opec. Also pay attention to the credit crunch and equities. But I do keep myself inform. By the realty trac released the numbers of foreclosures.
    Ironic u don’t see the local paper reportiing on this issue. Places like Washington DC,New York City, Los Angeles are the ones having the real problems. But I believe now this problem is spreading. In the mortgage market subprime is really a small faction. But everyone who looks at the bigger picture believe the economy is slowing down. But it’s too early to tell
    Oh,I agree with u that the inventory tax should be abolished. It came up on 1180 am talk radio too. There some politicians over there who are running want it abolish.

  10. The Post article printed in error that the two large tanks that may need to be replaced were at the wastewater facility. They are “water” tanks and are located at the water treatment plant not at the wastewater facility. Many large projects at both facilites are paid for with grant money, low interst loans, and occasionally with bond money. All these sources of funds are looked into before rates are changed. The entire country is struggling with how to pay for crumbling infrastructure ie: water and sewer lines, bridges and roadways, upgrades to facilities as required by new EPA mandated regulations etc. I too struggle with taxes and some fees, I just understand better why some utility rates are what they are, since I’ve worked in that field for 33 1/2 years. The price of home hits extremely hard! I agree that the 100-200 thousand range is truly lacking. The expenses to spruce-up our town have been minimal compared to the return on the new fresh and inviting look however.

  11. That has been consisant patter with city and county they’re created the perception that they don’t want repair this place. The more a city falls in disrepair the more young populace leaves. By Vicksburg has so many vacant bldgs around town and around the river.

  12. I’m afraid the American economy is headed way, way south. That’s why I question these new bond issues, all the extra maintenance required of city employees, etc., etc. If people don’t have jobs (pronounced “money”), sales tax receipts will head south, the casinos won’t contribute near as much to the city coffers, and the city will have to drastically raise property taxes if they’re to continue paying off bond issues, maintaining parks and landscaping, etc. And don’t think this country can’t go broke. It came darn near catastrophe level last week, and it sure ain’t over. The only thing that has prevented it from happening already is Benanke (sic?) and his printing press. And that spells hyperinflation down the line.

  13. Yesterday in the Sunday Post, the ran article on the Mortgage Mess. But the article didn’t look at local conditions in the Housing Market here. The article focused on the Florida house market instead this market. So it shows that this some people here are in denial of reality.
    Right now you could be right. I heard the Recession word being tossed around alot.


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