Property taxes in Cleveland may be a sore subject for many residents, but it is necessary to maintain roads, emergency, parks, recreation, libraries and other public services provided by the city.
The current millage rate was set in the fall of 2019 at 47 mills. Citizens saw an increase from 43.5 mills in 2017. “We try not to raise taxes,” said Alderman Gary Gainspoletti. “”It all depends on what’s going on. We have raised it because so much of the infrastructure is older and it takes more money for its upkeep.”
According to Cleveland city clerk Dominique Green, the assessment calculation is set forth by the state. “Discussions of millage increases occur in August of each year. Proposed increases are publicized and then set before a public hearing in September. If approved, the increase will go into effect for the
upcoming fiscal year (October – September),” she explained.
One piece of good news is there is a cap on the increase each fiscal year.
“We cannot set property taxes more than 10 percent over the last year,” Gainspoletti said. “So even if we were adversely impacted, there is a state limit on increases.” Cleveland is such a success story, it is a double-edged sword when calculations are being made. “Our millage is substantially lower than many in the Delta, but because of the successful economy we
have here, our property values are higher.”
Property taxes may be a difficult subject to discuss, but they must be assessed and paid for in each city and county. Bolivar County Tax Assessor Will Hooker said property assessments in the county is a four-year
process. “It takes four years to compete,” said Hooker. “We do 25 percent a year.” Hooker also said one of the biggest misconceptions about property tax is that his office is not responsible for setting tax rates. “Those are established by boards,” he said. “My office is responsible for
appraising property, and we have an appraisal company that does ours. It is a cost approach of how to rebuild that home. That is set by the state. They look at how many bathrooms are in the home, how many air conditioning units, how many bedrooms rooms… They send a book out that gives the
standards and guidelines.”
Another interesting fact that most people are unaware is that the Mississippi State Extension Service provides the values for farm land.
“They do that for the entire state,” said Hooker. “They look at cultivated versus uncultivated. It is very cumbersome and is generated and dictated by them. They send it out every year and that is what I go
by.” In Mississippi, those who are 65 years and older or who are disabled, are exempt from all ad valorem taxes up to $7,500 of assessed value. Of course, that is upon application and proof of eligibility. The
application must be filed with the county before April 1. Homeowners may also be eligible for the Mississippi homestead exemption. This exempts the first $7,500 in assessed value from taxation, up to a maximum of $300 off their tax bill. Homestead simply means that the property is a person’s primary
residence. Mississippi Property Tax rules note that for owner-occupied residential properties the assessed value is equal to 10 percent of market value (also called true value). The rate for all other real estate is 15
percent. Average effective property tax rates in Mississippi are quite low at 0.80 percent. Also, the median annual property tax payment in Mississippi is just $879. That is less than half the national average.
By Aimee Robinette
The Bolivar Bullet