In a recent edition of The Clarion-Ledger, state Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, suggested that the state buy more buildings in Jackson instead of leasing office space for state employees from private landlords.
On first glance, this seems like a good idea except for one item: As soon as the state buys a building or a piece of property, it is taken off the local property tax rolls — from which the revenue is used to support public schools.
Believe you me, the city of Jackson doesn’t want the state to buy any more buildings in the capital city. It already has enough non-tax-producing state properties all over the city, and for years this has been in the throat of city officials.
Also, if state buildings are leased to private enterprise, the lessee is obligated to pay and all property taxes due just like private property owners are required to do.
But this does not seem to be universal. There is a case in Jackson where a renter of state property apparently is not paying any property taxes needed to support the local schools even though his lease agreement with the state says he should do. The lease, signed in January 2014, also states that the lesee must register the lease with the Hinds County chancery clerk within 30 days of its signing or the lease become null and void. It appears this has not been done.
It is also strange that the lessee of this property is a state employee who makes $116,468.81 a year plus benefits as director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. Before being appointed to this position, he was employed by the state in another position making $120,000 a year plus fringes.