The Mississippi Supreme Court has sided with developers over federal tax credits and Section 42 housing and has ordered 14 counties to issue ad valorem tax refunds totaling millions of dollars.

Madison County was one of the 14 counties affected but Tax Assessor Gerald Barber said there is no impact here because the board of supervisors sided with developers last year during the formal appeal process.

The issue involves developers who use federal tax credits and whether or not that should be included under assessments. Because of legislation enacted in 2005, they are granted this relief and ad valorem taxes on developments are much lower.

The Supreme Court recently denied a request by the Mississippi Association of Supervisors and the Humphreys County Tax Assessor's Office to overturn the decision.

Barber said that there are six developments in the county and that during the formal appeals hearing last year the board of supervisors sided in favor with developers, adding that the exemption "is just another disguise as a tax increase with lipstick."

He said the exemption helps developers and not the general public.

"Anyone involved with local government budgets should be unhappy with this special exemption on property that puts such a large strain on the schools, roads, police and fire protection etc., while paying such a disproportioned amount of property tax compared to other housing and businesses," Barber said. "In my opinion, this is not a Supreme Court decision of fairness, but interpretation of the law created by the Mississippi Legislature.

"This is a problem created by the Legislature, who in this case appears to be influenced by the developers and their lobbyist and who refused to listen to the voices of the counties, schools and cities," he continued. "It also disturbs me when I hear some legislators boast that they have never voted for a tax increase. In fact, when they vote on these special interest group exemptions they are voting for a tax shift to the rest of us that pay business taxes, property taxes, and car tags."