Natural Gas Pipeline Saving Grace for Panhandle Counties?

By: Bergen Baucom
By: Bergen Baucom

Property values have dropped dramatically over the past five years. And, less property tax revenue translates into less funding for local governments. Many in the area have been struggling to pay for services. But this year, Jackson and some surrounding counties got a boost from a new source of property tax revenue, courtesy of the Florida natural gas pipeline.

"I only have about a 2% decrease from last year" said Sharon Cox, the Jackson County Property Appraiser. And compared to some of her colleagues in neighboring counties, Cox has reason to be satisfied with that decrease. Even with the pipeline, some counties still saw decreases by as much as 12 percent.

"It would have been more had we not had some of these tangibles to help us with our taxable values in Jackson County" she said.

The biggest tangible is the Florida natural gas pipeline. It's helped increase personal property values which negated some of the blow to real property. It rescued counties such as Calhoun and Liberty, but as Cox told us Monday, it's wasn't the only thing that helped save Jackson. New area industries such as Love's truck stop and others helped cushion would could have been a big fall.

"Every time you have a new business, whether it's large or small, you're going to add some value. I've never been without some kind of new construction. It's not like it was, of course, but anytime you add a plus to a negative it off sets it" Cox said.

She also said she expected Home Source International to bring another boost to the figures next year. That boost would help make up for some of the projects that will be completed this year.

"The property is actually owned by the city of Marianna, that will actually put it back on the tax roll. And then, the business itself will file tangible personal property on the equipment that's going to be used in that business" Cox explained.

Though she said she didn't foresee a future windfall in property tax revenues, Cox did say if new industry continued to move to the area, Jackson County should be able to weather the storm.

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