- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Since Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the city of Biloxi has given property tax exemptions for up to seven years to businesses investing along the beach, in downtown and along Mississippi Highway 67.

At a city council workshop Tuesday, The Sun Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1hbALl4) there was some discussion on whether the city was giving up too much.

Jerry Creel, Biloxi’s community development director, told council members that business owners build the tax incentive into their financing package. The amount of the tax abatements is covered by increased sales tax, he said. It covers only the improvements on a property and does not reduce school taxes.

Councilman George Lawrence questioned whether seven years is too long and said every business that comes downtown when the baseball stadium is built will want an incentive.

The council gave most of the businesses the full tax incentive.

“We shouldn’t have given that much, but we did,” Lawrence said.

A tax incentive for the Hook Up Bar & Restaurant was removed from the agenda until March 18.

Company representative Bill Kilduff said tax incentives have become a way of life to attract businesses in a challenging environment.

“If there’s no incentives, they’re going to go somewhere else,” he said.

The incentives stimulate development and create jobs, activity and ultimately money for the city, he said.

Creel suggested the council consider the number of jobs a new business will create when determining the amount of incentive, and more importantly, the sales tax that will be generated.

“The intent is to attract businesses to invest in Biloxi,” said councilman Kenny Glavan. “Let’s keep growing Biloxi.”

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Information from: The Sun Herald, https://www.sunherald.com

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