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Supervisors reduce tax bill for Meridian Town Center

By Staff
LAND DISPUTE – Lauderdale County resident Wade Barham, in hat and with a map in hand, discusses a land dispute with the board of supervisors on Monday. Sitting, from left, are board attorney Rick Barry and Supervisors Hank Florey, Jimmie Smith and Craig Hitt. Photo by William F. West/The Meridian Star
By William F. West / community editor
Oct. 8, 2002
The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on Monday to lower the Meridian Town Center's 2001 tax bill.
Supervisors Hank Florey, Ray Boswell, Jimmie Smith and Laura Sykes voted yes, while board president Craig Hitt voted no.
The vote came after the developer, Andrew Mattiace, petitioned the board to lower the values on what he said are unusable parcels of land. A hearing was conducted this summer and the state Attorney General's Office also said the supervisors could make a decision.
The vote came despite Tax Assessor Jimmy Slay saying that Mattiace's request would result in a $143,389.96 revenue loss $46,440.74 to the county, $38,882.51 to the city of Meridian and $58,066.71 to city schools.
Slay said that Mattiace originally owed $183,197.89 in unpaid taxes, not including penalties and interest. After the supervisors' action, Mattiace now owes $39,807.93 in taxes.
Slay said Mattiace also will have to pay penalties and interest. Slay referred questions about that amount to the Tax Collector Stanley Shannon, who could not be reached for comment.
Mattiace also could not be reached for comment.
Meridian Town Center, located off South Frontage Road, is the home of Wal-Mart SuperCenter and Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse.
Boswell said parts of the land are unusable because they either contain prehistoric fossils or are being used as drainage ditches.
Slay said the premise of Mattiace's petition is the assessor's office did not do its job. Slay said the property values were based on a Meridian Town Center appraisal.
Boswell said he was not accusing Slay of wrongdoing.
Boswell said he believes the county government needs to help develop Meridian and Lauderdale County an opinion echoed by Florey.
Smith said errors are made, regardless of fault.
Hitt said the land was one property at the time of the assessment but since then has been deeded to others.
Sykes declined to explain her vote.