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County to repay Weyerhaeuser after tax flap


Lowndes County tax assessor Greg Andrews

Lowndes County tax assessor Greg Andrews



Nathan Gregory



Between Lowndes County school and board of supervisors funds, $402,330 will have to be repaid to Weyerhaeuser, a wood product manufacturer with an area plant, as a result of an inaccurate tax rendition by the company's recently acquired tax firm. 


Because of the $7,000-per-mill cushion built in financially for the county, the error will have no financial impact, tax assessor Greg Andrews told supervisors Monday. 


The company Weyerhaeuser recently contracted to do its taxes reported some recent taxes had increased when they had not, according to county administrator Ralph Billingsley, and once the county found the error it had already passed the extra money to the school districts' and supervisors' budgets. The county will repay Weyerhaeuser through a tax sale at the end of this month, Billingsley said. 


Andrews said the company pays an annual ad valorem tax of $1.6 million plus more than $500,000 in in-lieu fees. 


"I know to the general public, this seems like a lot of money," board president Harry Sanders said. "I want to thank ... Weyerhaeuser for what you do. The people you employ, this county would be in bad shape if we didn't have you." 


The board voted in favor of recommendations from county engineer Bob Calvert to contract companies for three components of a Mississippi Steel Processing plant expansion. Okolona-based Ausbern Construction was selected to build the access road after submitting a bid of $716,354.04. Continental Rails & Excavating of Hattiesburg was contracted for the loading pad for their $167,587.90 bid. Prewett Enterprises from Walls will construct the rail spur after supervisors approved their $112,668.50. Each of those bids was the lowest submitted in each category for the project during a bid opening last Wednesday. 


An additional four locations to six previously announced ones will receive outdoor emergency sirens capable of emitting 70 decibels of sound audible from a mile away. Supervisors also approved a $198,893.75 bid from Tupelo-based Precision Communication to install them.  


The sirens will be installed in the following locations: Wilcutt Block Training Center at 80 Wilcutt Block Road; Lowndes County Fire Station 1, District 3 on 347 Stadium Road; Columbus Middle School on 175 Highway 373; West Lowndes Elementary School on 1000 Gilmer Wilburn Road; Golden Triangle Regional Airport on 2080 Airport Road; Tri South Aviation on 368 Fabritek Road; Lowndes County Fire Station 3, District 5 on 2070 Industrial Park Road; Lowndes County Fire Station 4, District 3 on 5077 Highway 182 East; Lowndes County satellite station 5 on 491 Robinson Road; and Lowndes satellite station 3 on 2121 Yorkville Road East.


Nathan Gregory covers city and county government for The Dispatch.



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