Slabbed has been keeping one eye peeled on the machinations in Pascagoula, where property taxes are set to increase a whopping 34%, to make up for the financial mismanagement of the current administrations ($9 million of the $14 million dollar total deficit in 1 year) and the prior administration ($6 million of the $14 million dollar deficit over 4 years).
For those catching up, current Mayor Maxwell dropped the budgetary bombshell in late July and blamed a bookkeeper and the former Mayor for the $14 million dollar deficit. Slabbed was the first media outlet to call BS and for good reason as the math didn’t add up the way Mayor Maxwell claimed. Soon the forensic audit report was made public and the more traditional media outlets caught on quickly. Here is the evolution of Tyler Carter’s coverage for the Mississippi Press:
It is safe to say the Yacht Club’s tax exemption has reverberated around the county a time or two so now it’s time we put everything together and illustrate both how the process under which tax exemption was given is fatally flawed, lacking any semblance of transparency and what the elected officials can do to fix it.
There has been lots of information posted already and then Geoff Belcher’s article for the Sea Coast Echo proved as an invaluable resource because the players behind the events made on the record comments. First things is to emphasize the update to the first post because we did get a fact wrong and the correct facts need to be emphasized:
Slabbed has been contacted by the Department of Revenue in response to communications from Jimmie Ladner’s office. Jeff Foreman of MDOR indicated this this type of tax exemption does not require MDOR approval:
As I understand from ……. below, the Bay Waveland Yacht Club is claiming exemption as a “perpetual or fraternal and benevolent organization”. As you have already established in this thread, such an exemption is clearly authorized under Miss. Code Ann. Section 27-31-1(d). Under current Mississippi law, case law and guidance from the Mississippi Attorney General, the duty to determine eligibility for such an exemption lies solely with the county. The Department of Revenue plays no role in the approval of such exemptions and, as such, there is no requirement for any information regarding such exemptions to be filed with the Department.
The takeaway from Mr. Foreman’s very important clarification needs highlighting because it drives the inescapable logic that follows:
Under current Mississippi law, case law and guidance from the Mississippi Attorney General, the duty to determine eligibility for such an exemption lies solely with the county.
AROD is a budding radio personality now appearing several times with WGSO NOLA Jeff Crouere. The transcript of Ashton’s August 29, 2017 interview is here courtesy of the Bernofskys at TulaneLink. His last interview with Courere on Tuesday is here beginning at 3:05:00 or there abouts.
A quick PACER sweep indicates there are two active civil suits against the City (Marquar and Issman) with three suits resolved within the past year or so. The docket at the local Circuit Clerk’s office would have the rest of the active cases involving the City.
Just a thought, but it seems like just yesterday the Bay City Council took some very bad legal advice and got in trouble with Ethics. When the opinion came out the lawyer that gave the bad advice got none of the blame as 100% of that went to the elected officials. Deservedly so I might add.
As the coming weeks unfold I’m probably going to be bringing that concept back up.
Belcher snagged quotes from Jimmie Ladner and Yacht Club Treasurer Chris Roth which is good. Slabbed has some additional quotes to share from Jimmie while Lana got an important clarification from the Mississippi Department of Revenue. We also are in the final stages of information gathering on how the by law change went down at the Yacht Club. This is really a discussion that should have taken place in October 2015 at a Supervisor’s meeting that is open to the public but that never happened folks so we’re going to have it now.
If you are a church or a 501(c)(3), I would urge you to read Mississippi Code Ann. Section 27-31-1, which has the property tax exemptions listed. I imagine there will be some fear mongering and there is no reason for that. Churches are exempt as would most 501(c)(3) organizations.
Finally folks, consider what the statute that Jimmie Ladner is relying upon actually says because there are words after “fraternal and benevolent organization” that are very important and they appear in the very code section (MCA 27-31-1(d)) that Ladner told Slabbed he relied upon to grant the tax exemption to the Yacht Club:
All property, real or personal, owned and occupied by a fraternal and benevolent organization, when used by such organization, and from which no rentals or other profits accrue to the organization, but any part rented or from which revenue is received shall be taxed. (Emphasis added)