April 3, 2010 9:55:00 PM
The Mississippi Legislature has moved to create a tax exemption for companies like Waters Truck and Tractor who contract with schools for transportation services.
The measure will add contractors who provide transportation to and from school and for other related services to the exemption already held by federal and state vehicles, as well as school district-owned vehicles.
"They have the contract with the city schools, and, of course, city schools don''t pay ad valorem on their buses," Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, said of Waters, which handles transportation services for Columbus Municipal School District. "So this bill allows them to waive that if they are in the contract with a school system."
Nine school districts in the state, including the West Point School District and the CMSD, outsource their transportation needs, according to the Mississippi Department of Education.
WPSD outsources to First Student, which also handles transportation services for Madison, Hinds and Yazoo counties'' schools.
"This is a pretty new phenomenon in the state of Mississippi, to have school routes contracted out," noted Chism, who co-authored the bill.
Often, he said, the taxes are passed along to the districts in the form of higher contract fees.
"We''re really taxing ourselves when we''re making the schools pay ad valorem taxes," Chism said.
The measure is House Bill 1677, introduced by Reps. Jeff Smith, D-Columbus, Chism, David Gibbs, D-West Point, Walter Robinson, D-Bolton, and Brandon Jones, D-Pascagoula.
Other vehicles with ad valorem taxes waived include those owned by fire protection agencies, the National Guard, disabled veterans, survivor spouses of a member of the armed forces who died on active duty and Medal of Honor recipients; antique vehicles also are exempt.
The bill has passed both Legislative bodies; the governor has an April 7 deadline to return the bill from his office.
To read bills, track their status and see how legislators voted, go to the Mississippi Legislature''s Web site: billstatus.ls.state.ms.us.
The Web site also has live videocasts of the House and Senate when they''re taking up bills on the floor.