Multi-million dollar corporations in the Capital City are asking for tax breaks.
Tuesday, the Jackson City Council weighed in on whether it is a good idea in these tough economic times while the city is searching for ways to pay for much needed infrastructure improvements.
During the last official council meeting of the year city leaders discuss tax breaks for companies.
Comcast, Eaton Aerospace and Entergy are among the dozen businesses applying for exemptions from ad valorem taxes on property improvements.
City officials said the taxes range from $500.00 to half a million.
Some council members want to remain business friendly but said money is needed for improvements from water lines to paving.
"With the needs that we have in our city right now that we've got to be sure that we have proper oversight and that when we give this money that we are in fact sure that they're gonna make that investment in our city, hire our people and buy their products in Jackson," said Ward Seven Councilwoman Margaret Barrett Simon.
Other council members said the tax breaks are needed to keep businesses in the city.
They point to Saks Fifth Avenue Inc. on Highway 80 which officials said was going to leave Jackson but remained and added jobs after receiving tax exemptions.
"It allows them to create jobs. It allows the City of Jackson to be able to retain those jobs, to retain those businesses. It also allows them to be that much more competitive with their competitors that may be in other states or other municipalities," said Acting Deputy Director of Economic Development Michael Davis.
The five year extensions renewals range from 2006 to 2010 for improvements to the businesses.
Some on the council were concerned that they were only given a short time to approve the applications that were on the consent agenda, which requires an up or down vote for all the companies who applied.
"We do what we have to do to keep these businesses here in the City of Jackson. We pay the price to keep them, but we also get something for having them here. It's just that simple," said Council President Frank Bluntson.
Economic Development officials said the tax breaks are given to companies after their improvements are verified by Hinds County and the State Department of Revenue.
This was also the last meeting for Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes who received congratulations from his colleagues.
Stokes leaves his council post after 22 years to serve as a Hinds County Supervisor.
The tax breaks were approved in a four to one vote with one abstention.
Barrett Simon, who usually supports the exemptions, voted no and had concerns about the not having enough information about each company and the deadline for the council vote.
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